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India, Pakistan ties 'promising but fragile': US commander

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Noting that India-Pakistan relations are "promising but fragile", a top US commander today said that except another major terror attack in India, a conflict between the two nuclear powers is "remote".

"Despite modest gains over the past few years, India-Pakistan relations are promising but fragile and the cease fire violations along the Line of Control in 2013 are certainly cause for concern," Admiral Samuel J Locklear, Commander of the US Pacific Command, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.

"Barring another major terror attack in India, a conflict between these two nuclear powers is remote, but continued violence along the contentious border will erode the political space to improve relations," Locklear said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"Looking further beyond the immediate term, we should remain guardedly optimistic that India and China-the two largest Asian powers-value the economic benefits of cooperation and will strive, in New Delhi's words, 'for peace and tranquility on the border as the foundation of a stable relationship'," he noted.

Observing that India continues its rise as a regional and emerging global power, Locklear said its increasing, positive presence in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region as security provider is an important factor in regional stability.

Last year, USPACOM participated in the US-India Strategic Dialogue and looks forward to India's participation in this year's Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, he said.

"India has had impressive growth in defence trade with the US, purchasing C-17s, C-130Js, and P-8s. As we look to mature our defence relationship, there is further opportunity for growth in defence sales, co-development and co-production under the aegis of the US India Defence Trade and Technology Initiative," he said.

"These systems would expand India's capabilities to provide for their own security and help their efforts to be a security provider for the region," Locklear said.

The PACOM Commander said periodic eruptions of religious, ethnic, political, and separatist violence continues to plague some of America's closest partners in the region, limiting its engagement efforts.

"India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines are all working against a confluence of criminal and extremist networks that enable transnational facilitation of people, material, and money across the region to support various causes which threaten regional peace and prosperity," he said.

"A sustained effort to build and enhance the capacity of our allies and partners is the cornerstone of our counter terrorism strategy in South and Southeast Asia.

First Published: Tue, March 25 2014. 22:26 IST
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