India-Pakistan Talks to Continue, US Watching
Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan will continue as scheduled next week, with terrorism leading the agenda. Despite concerns that a bomb blast in India last week might derail the meeting, the two countries have agreed to meet in New Delhi on February 25. Pakistan-India communications have been particularly strained since the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, which India attributes to Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
While the meeting will focus on counter-terrorism efforts, Pakistan has stressed that other issues, such as banking and trade, will be on the agenda. Nonetheless, it is clear that for India, the primary concern is Pakistan’s efforts to control militant anti-India Islamists based inside Pakistan.
The United States is also watching the meeting closely. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake spoke of the importance of U.S.-Indian relations at a recent talk at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Speaking of the increasing cooperation between the United States and India, Mr. Blake highlighted ongoing counter-terrorism efforts between the two nations, and referenced the increasing defense trade to India. Mr. Blake even hinted at a possible visit by President Obama this year.