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‘Concerns about Indian role not groundless’

Updated August 08, 2013

WASHINGTON, Aug 7: US Special Envoy James Dobbins has acknowledged that Pakistan's concerns over India's presence in Afghanistan were “not groundless,” although somewhat exaggerated.

In an interview to BBC in Washington, Mr Dobbins said that some insurgents were also crossing into Pakistan from Afghanistan.

Pakistan has often complained that India is fomenting trouble on its western border through its consular presence in the Afghan cities of Kandahar and Jalalabad.This marks the first time that a senior US official has publicly endorsed Pakistan’s complaint.

India denies the charge, saying that the consulates were there to promote trade and development.Mr Dobbins, US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has recently returned from a trip to the region along with the Secretary of State John Kerry.

He said that Islamabad was also concerned about the issue of “cross-border militancy”.“The dominant infiltration of militants is from Pakistan into Afghanistan, but we recognise that there is some infiltration of hostile militants from the other direction as well. So Pakistan's concerns aren't groundless… They are simply, in our judgment, somewhat exaggerated,” Mr Dobbins said.

Kabul has often blamed Pakistan-backed militants for violence in Afghanistan and Mr Dobbins said this issue had also been discussed at great length with Pakistan.

“We do remain concerned about the relative freedom with which Afghan insurgents can operate out of Pakistan,” he said.

“We believe that Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US need to collaborate much more closely to deal with this threat of cross-border infiltration.”

He said Afghan President Hamid Karzai was “quite warm” to the idea of talking to the Taliban and had asked Pakistan to facilitate contact between the Afghan High Peace Council and the insurgents.

He said he hoped that the talks could begin within the next three months.