WASHINGTON, June 8 (IANS): The U.S aspires to have greater engagement with India sitting on an enormously important geostrategic location on the sea lines of communication from the Mideast into Pacific, according to a top US military officer.
"We have for some time said that we aspired to a closer relationship and greater engagement with India," General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told foreign media Thursday.
"I mean, they are currently the second and soon, you know, depending on who you believe, soon to be the largest country in the world," he said in response to a question asking him to compare Washington's relationship with India and Pakistan.
"They sit at an enormously important geostrategic location on the sea lines of communication from the Mideast into Pacific. And they're the world's largest democracy," Dempsey said.
"So sure, we have, for as long as I can remember, been seeking greater engagement with them," he said.
On the other hand, Washington's relationship with Pakistan was "always surprising" and often "frustrating", said Dempsey, who has "been working the US-Pakistan relationship in earnest since about 2005."
"So I'm seven years deep in it and I would venture to say that it's always surprising to me," he said noting that they cooperated on some issues, but were unable to find common ground on many other issues like the presence of Taliban in its tribal belt.
"we do some things very well. We have some interests on which we cooperate almost without question, and then there are other issues where we just have not been able to find common ground," Dempsey said.
"The presence of Afghan Taliban in the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas ) is one of those areas," he said pointing specifically to the Haqqani network.
In Washington's view "the Haqqani network, is as big a threat to Pakistan as it is to Afghanistan and to us, but we haven't been able to find common ground on that point. So that's been very frustrating," Dempsey said.
While, there are "friction points in our relationship with Pakistan, and those activities are one of those friction points," he said, " we just have to keep at it, because Pakistan's an important partner."