40 years are enough for every responsible country to get in board with peace process

US defense secretary gave a strong message to Pakistan that 40 years are enough to get in board with the peace process and said that now it is time for everyone to support the efforts of the UN, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Afghanistan in this regards.

"We are looking for every responsible nation to support peace in the sub-continent and across this war, in Afghanistan, that's gone on now for 40 years," he told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday as he welcomed Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman for talks.

"It's time for everyone to get on board support the united nation support prime minister Modi's president Ghani and all those who are trying to maintain peace and make for a better world here."

We are on that track. It is diplomatically led as it should be and we will do our best to protect the Afghan people.

Mattis was responding to a question from reporters about the letter written by President Donald Trump to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, seeking his support in the peace process in Afghanistan. In his letter trump has made it clear that Pakistan's full support in this regard is fundamental to building an enduring US-Pakistan partnership.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lent his support to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's peace plans for his war-torn country, including talks with the Taliban, saying India stood ready to increase connectivity with landlocked Afghanistan.

In comments to journalists after talks with Ghani in New Delhi, Modi said India backed Afghan efforts to build a "united, stable, democratic and prosperous nation", which "stems from our commitment to regional peace and progress". Both countries also reaffirmed their commitment to their bilateral strategic partnership, signed in 2011. Ghani, on his first visit to India since taking office in September, spoke of the need for regional cooperation to defeat terrorism and of his determination to make Afghanistan "the graveyard of terror". "Peace is our significant goal," he added.

Ghani, who arrived late on Monday, is on a three-day visit to New Delhi. That it has taken Ghani seven months to visit India though he has taken time out to travel to China, Pakistan, Iran and the US has not been lost on New Delhi. Additionally, Ghani's perceived reliance on Pakistan and China for launching peace talks with Taliban militants, who have staged a comeback in recent years, had been noted in India.

"I conveyed our support for President Ghani's vision for peace and stability in Afghanistan. We have a shared interest in the success of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process," he said—a reference to the primacy of Afghan interests in any dialogue with the Taliban. "Its success requires a positive and constructive approach from neighbors, including an end to support for violence," he said in a reference to Pakistan's reported sustained backing for the Taliban in a bid to curtail India's role in Afghanistan.

Promising consistent engagement in the future, Modi said India's partnership with Afghanistan was "an enduring commitment". India had recently handed over three military helicopters to Afghanistan, he said.

On future ties, Modi said India was ready to join a Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan Trade and Transit Agreement as the fourth partner. India's joining "would allow the arrangement to contribute in a meaningful manner to the vision of wider regional economic integration", an India-Afghanistan joint statement later said.

Modi also reaffirmed a commitment to developing a deep-water port in the Iranian city of Chabahar, which would give landlocked Afghanistan access to the sea other than through Pakistan. "We believe that Afghanistan's direct surface link to India and the rest of South Asia, and increased connectivity to sea could turn Afghanistan into a hub that connects Asia's diverse regions and beyond," Modi said. "We will also quickly conclude a bilateral Motor Vehicles Agreement," he added.

 "If India persuades other countries to come on board, then Pakistan can't play the spoiler. If things don't happen on the ground then Pakistan will steal a march," Dhar said, referring to Pakistan blocking a South Asian pact on road connectivity at a regional summit in November. India is now aiming for bilateral pacts with neighbors to circumvent Pakistan's move.

Ghani thanked India for pouring in $2.2 billion in aid to Afghanistan since 2001. "Indian investment is important to us," he said. "We look forward to a region that is economically integrated…where peace between states prevails."

On the issue of terrorism, Ghani advocated a regional approach and, in an echo of India's position on the Taliban, said: "Terror cannot be classified into good and bad."

He recalled that Afghanistan was once a hub for regional trade and expressed hope that it would return to the days of its past glory. "Afghanistan was a roundabout, a place where ideas, people and goods came and flowed from South Asia to Central Asia to West Asia," Ghani said. "Our vision today is to be guided by that potential where again the energy of Central Asia will flow to South Asia where pipelines, fiber optics, railways, and connectivity, air, ground and virtual, will connect us."

The joint statement said Modi and Ghani "reviewed the progress made so far in the implementation of all areas of cooperation envisaged under the strategic partnership agreement (signed in 2011), and reaffirmed their commitment to the full implementation of the strategic partnership objectives." Both countries agreed to sign an extradition treaty and a pact on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters soon, it added.

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