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Monday
Nov082010

Obama Works on Mending Ties Between India and Pakistan

Photo Courtesy - The White House/Chuck Kennedy(NEW DELHI, India) -- White House officials say one of the goals of President Obama's 10-day trip to Asia is not just to encourage Indian leaders to resume talks with their Pakistani counterparts, but to encourage India's leader and people to reconsider the entire way it looks at its relationship with its longtime nemesis.

The issue of Pakistan came front and center in a public way when President Obama faced some tough questions on the subject of Islamist extremists from students at Mumbai's St. Xavier College.  The issue of extremists within the Pakistani government is of dire consequence, and not just for India.

“Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world today; it's the epicenter of the global jihadist movement,” says former Obama White House adviser and CIA analyst Bruce Riedel.  “It's where the al Qaeda leadership lives, it's where they plot.”

India cut off direct talks with Pakistan after Pakistani terrorists attacked Mumbai two years ago this November, slaughtering more than 160 people.

On Saturday, after President Obama failed to mention the word "Pakistan" in his commemoration of the victims of that attack at the Taj Hotel, the omission was criticized by many in India, including the spokesman for India's opposition party, who called the remarks "a complete disappointment, as the world and United States had proof that the attack was planned on Pakistani soil by its intelligence agencies."

A White House official says that "the President knew that he would have multiple opportunities on this trip to talk about Pakistan.  His remarks at the Taj were about honoring those who were lost and showing our solidarity with India in combating terrorism."

Obama is trying to convince Indian Prime Minister Singh to work with Pakistan's leaders to strengthen their hands against extremist elements in their country and to focus on the broader goal of a stable Pakistan.

“I am absolutely convinced that the country that has the biggest stake in Pakistan's success is India,” the president told students at Xavier.

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