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Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 15:15 UK

S Asia foes 'face common threat'

Richard Holbrooke after a meeting with Indian officials in Delhi
Mr Holbrooke says the US will not mediate in Kashmir

US envoy Richard Holbrooke has called for India, Pakistan and the US to work together to defeat Islamic militants.

Speaking in Delhi, he said all three countries faced a "common threat".

Mr Holbrooke and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Delhi after talks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

US President Barack Obama's new strategy combines Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of a new regional push to defeat militants in both nations.

Mr Holbrooke and Adm Mullen met Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon.

"For the first time since partition [in 1947] India, Pakistan and the United States face a common threat and a common challenge and we have a common task," Mr Holbrooke told reporters afterwards.

"We must work together."

Adm Mullen said a military strategy on its own would fail and only a joint civilian-military approach could yield results.

Tensions between the US and Pakistan have been growing over American missiles strikes against suspected militants on Pakistani soil.

The latest attack came on Wednesday near the town of Wana in the South Waziristan tribal area.

Local officials said four militants were killed and four injured in the strike in the village of Ganjikhel. A vehicle they were travelling in was completely destroyed and nearby shops damaged.

'Uneasy'

Analysts say India is uneasy with Mr Obama's strategy in Pakistan and Afghanistan and say it does not address New Delhi's concerns over what it calls Pakistan's backing of militants.

The US has bought the Pakistan military's line that India's presence in Afghanistan is a threat to them
Kanwal Sibal, former Indian foreign secretary

There are concerns that the US is "tilting towards" Pakistan, an old ally, rather than India which has moved closer to the US in recent years.

"The US is more receptive to Pakistan's concerns, which is worrying India," analyst Bharat Karnad told the Reuters news agency.

Some analysts fear that the US may push India to limit its presence in Afghanistan to "please" Pakistan.

India is spending millions of dollars in infrastructure projects in Afghanistan.

"The US has bought the Pakistan military's line that India's presence in Afghanistan is a threat to them," former Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal said.

"And they are saying if the US wants Pakistan's full co-operation in fighting al-Qaeda, then something should be done to contain or limit India's presence."

Mr Holbrooke has denied that Washington wanted to become a mediator between the two neighbours.

FROM THE BBC WORLD SERVICE

"That is not our job," he told reporters in Islamabad.

He said the US was "not going to be involved" in mediating in the dispute over Kashmir.

Rahul Bedi from Jane's Defence Weekly told the BBC that Mr Holbrooke was unlikely to get any promises from the Indian government.

"The Americans are quite keen that India re-engages Pakistan in peace talks but with elections coming up in the next few weeks I don't think Holbrooke is gong to get any kind of assurance from Delhi."

Mr Obama has pledged substantial economic assistance for Pakistan - more than $1bn (£684m) annually over the next five years - but the money will depend on the army's performance against the Taleban and al-Qaeda.

Correspondents say there is frustration and resentment in Pakistan about the aid conditions - which reflect American distrust of the Pakistani army.



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