The United States has welcomed Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Kabul, with a senior official noting that it underscored India's backing of international efforts to rebuild a secure and stable Afghanistan.
During his visit to Kabul, Singh promised additional aid of $500 million to Afghanistan, raising the country's total contribution to the rebuilding of the war-torn nation to $2 billion.
Robert Blake, the US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, told the Center for Strategic and International Studies that Singh recognised India's enhanced position as a regional leader.
"India's economic rise presents an enormous opportunity for Pakistan, and the normalisation of economic ties could provide immense benefits to millions of entrepreneurs, farmers and businesspeople in both countries," remarked Blake. "More critically, a bilateral breakthrough could provide a catalyst for wider regional economic integration, a transformative goal we all wish realised."
The US official praised the Indian premier for reaching out to Pakistan, especially after he invited his Pakistani counterpart, Yousuf Raza Gilani, for the cricket World Cup final in March in India.
Pakistan has always been wary of India's growing influence in Afghanistan and has for years been trying to keep its eastern neighbour away from the land-locked, strife-torn nation. But India believes it has a significant role to play in rebuilding Afghanistan and has been making efforts to enhance its influence.