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American Forces Press Service

Regional Challenges Need Regional Solutions, Mullen Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2009 – Regional challenges require regional solutions, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in New Delhi, India, yesterday.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, discussed Obama’s Afghan strategy with leaders in those countries and then briefed Indian leaders on the discussions. The admiral and his party returned to Washington today.

During a news conference at the American Embassy in New Delhi, Holbrooke discussed the need for unity.

“For the first time since partition, India, Pakistan and the United States face a common threat, a common challenge, and we have a common task,” he said.

“There’s a great deal of history in this region between Afghanistan and Pakistan and Pakistan and India, and we respect that history,” the ambassador said. Still the countries must work together to defeat a common threat, he said.

Al-Qaida and the Taliban are a common threat in the region. Extremists operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and have launched attacks in India. Militants trained and equipped by extremists in Pakistan launched the Mumbai attack in November. “Now that we face a common threat, we must work together,” Holbrooke said.

“In Pakistan, we talked to the Pakistani leadership about Afghanistan, about their own political situation, about economic problems and other issues,” Holbrooke said. “We were not there to negotiate Pakistani-Indian relations.”

Mullen said one of the reasons the U.S. civilian-military team that he and Holbrooke represent comes to India is to ensure they see the region through Indian eyes. “We seek that counsel in every engagement and to listen and learn,” Mullen said.

Holbrooke said the purpose of the visit to India was not to ask Indian leaders to do anything, but rather to inform them of the discussions and to get their views. “We did not come here with any requests,” Holbrooke said.

The threats posed by extremists in the region threaten the national security interests of all three countries, Holbrooke said. Obama is committed to combating the threat, but understands the process will be difficult, and will require cooperation, he added.

“We can’t settle issues like Afghanistan and many other issues without India’s full involvement and expression of views,” Holbrooke said.

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