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Holbrooke to visit India, Pak, Afghanistan this week

By Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC
Last updated on: February 05, 2009 02:56 IST
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India is also on US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke's itinerary, the State Department announced Wednesday.
But when State Department spokesman Robert Wood was asked why India was on  Holbrooke's itinerary when it had been made clear earlier that India was not on Holbrooke's mandate contrary to earlier rumors that he would be appointed South Asia envoy, he (Wood) said, "India's an important country in the region and has interests in Afghanistan."
"He wants to hear from the Indian government in terms of how we can all better contribute to peace and stability in Afghanistan, "Wood said.
Asked if Holbrooke is planning on bringing up the Kashmir issue while he's in New Delhi, Wood shot back, "Kashmir was never part of his portfolio," and emphasized, "He's dealing with Afghanistan-Pakistan."
The spokesman said Holbrooke would leave Wednesday first to London then attend the Munich Security Conference and then head to Pakistan, Afghanistan and India "in that order," later in the week, but did not provide specific dates.
Wood said, he had spoken to Holbrooke and "he said, in essence, this is an orientation trip."
"He's not carrying any messages to any of these governments from either the Secretary (of State Hillary Clinton) or President (Barack Obama) and he's not going there to lecture."
Wood asserted that "he's going there to listen, and then he'll report back to the Secretary and President."
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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC