MUMBAI: President of United States Barack Obama stressed India on Sunday to take up the peace efforts with Pakistan, a country that he said was not acting quickly enough to deal with militancy within its borders.
Obama faces a diplomatic tightrope in fostering ties with India as its economic and geopolitical importance grows while at the same time helping Pakistan with billions of dollars in aid and promoting wider peace in Afghanistan.
“My hope is that over time, trust develops between the two countries, that dialogue begins, perhaps on less controversial issues, building up to more controversial issues,” Obama told a meeting of students at a college in Mumbai.
“There are more Pakistanis who’ve been killed by terrorists inside Pakistan than probably anywhere else,” Obama said.
India blames Pakistan for fostering militants and says elements withing the Pakistan state were behind the Mumbai attacks in 2008, when Pakistan-based gunmen killed 166 people in a 60-hour rampage through India’s financial hub.
The attack inflamed tension between the nuclear foes, who have been to war three times since independence from Britain in 1947. India immediately broke off peace talks with Pakistan, although there have been some largely fruitless top level meetings in the last year.
While Obama’s visit is mainly about boosting trade with India, the issue of regional stability in South Asia dominated a meeting on Sunday that Obama held with students at a college in Mumbai.
On Saturday, Obama announced the United States would relax export controls over sensitive technology, a demand of India’s that will help deepen U.S. ties with the emerging global power and its trillion dollar economy.
The White House also announced Obama would support India’s membership of four global non-proliferation organizations.
Obama is scheduled later on Sunday to fly to New Delhi for a tour of a Mughal-era tomb and dinner with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Obama will also visit Indonesia, South Korea and Japan on an Asian tour that will see Washington push to prevent countries unilaterally devaluing currencies to protect their exports, a top theme at the Group of 20 heads of state meet in Seoul next week.