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U.S. Security Interests At Stake In Afghanistan-Pakistan Region: Holbrooke

President Barack Obama's Special envoy for Afghanistan-Pakistan said the region posed a great national security threat to the United States as it was there the al-Qaeda top leadership was based, though the Nigerian terror suspect, indicted in the foiled Christmas Day bombing of an American airliner, was not trained by the outfit in the region.

"The fact that this particular person (Abdulmutallab) was not trained in Pakistan does not change the fact that the inspiration for all of this comes from al-Qaeda, and its leadership is based in the remotest areas on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border," Richard Holbrooke said addressing the Brookings Institute, a Washington-based think-tank.

"We concluded without any dissent that this was a national security issue, and we could not walk away from it," he said.

Holbrooke dismissed reports that appeared in a section of the Pakistani media that he was negotiating between the India and Pakistan, while observing that New Delhi had legitimate concerns about what was happening in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

"Everyone understands that India has a legitimate concern for what happens in the region, but I am not negotiating issues between India and Pakistan," he said, adding: "That's not my job, and nor is it something that would be productive if I were to undertake it."

Holbrooke also said he kept New Delhi fully informed of his activities regularly through its Ambassador to the U.S., Meera Shankar, with whom he was meeting frequently.

He categorically stated that his job did not include India, pointing out: "I am the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. I never sought to be the representative or envoy for India."

Terming India "a great country", he said the United States had an excellent ambassador there in Tim Roemer, and he (Roemer) was representing the United States there. America had a wide range of bilateral relationships (with India) which would not, under any circumstances, involve him, he added.

Holbrooke also stressed the U.S. valued it relationship with India as it did with Pakistan.

No India-Afghanistan Common Border

The Obama envoy further said India and Afghanistan did not share a common border--a view contrary to New Delhi's stance that it had a legitimate boundary with the land-locked southwest Asian country, that portion of Kashmir continuing to be under the occupation of Pakistan after the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru halted the victorious Indian Army from clearing that area also of intruders.

"If you look at the map, Afghanistan has a lot of neighbors. I mean, bordering neighbors. You mentioned India. India doesn't have a common border with Afghanistan. But I'm talking about just the countries that have direct borders next to them," said Holbrooke.

"Every one of the neighbors (of Afghanistan) has a role to play here in the stabilization and demilitarization, ultimately, of Afghanistan. And when I say every one, I mean every one of the neighbors," he added.

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