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India has holistic view of Afghan development: Blake

Washington, Feb 28, 2013, (PTI):

After Chuck Hagel's controversial remarks on India's role in Afghanistan, a top US official has strongly backed New Delhi's investment programme, saying it has a holistic view of the war-torn region.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake yesterday at a Congressional hearing said," India has taken a very kind of holistic view of what needs to be done there, and they have a USD 2 billion assistance program."

"They've hosted an investment conference. They have been a champion of this regional integration vision," Blake said.

He was responding to questions from lawmakers on the contributions of India and China in Afghanistan. He testified before a subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs on "Islamist Militant Threats to Eurasia" chaired by the Republican Congressman from California Dana Rohrabacher.

"I think China has taken a far less holistic view and a much more self-serving view, frankly," Blake said.

Though China has an assistance program for Afghanistan, it's relatively modest compared to the Indians, he said.

"I'd say it's about one-tenth of what the Indians provide. So again, a lot of humanitarian assistance and infrastructure assistance like that would be very welcome from the Chinese and we'd like to see them do more," Blake said.

"The Chinese have undertaken some investment. I wouldn't want to exaggerate it. I mean, it has not undertaken as much as the Iranians have, for example. In fact we'd like to see them do more in terms of investing certainly in a lot of the regional infrastructure that will be needed, because that would certainly be very welcome, and they've done a lot of that in Central Asia," he said.

"But they do not take a position on things like rule of law and things like that. That is not part of their foreign policy," Blake said.

Hagel, the new US Defence Secretary, in a video remarks in 2011 had claimed, "India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border".


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