Thawing of Indo-Pakistan
ties: US happy
Dismissing a suggestion that the US was courting India as a counterbalance to an emerging China, Wolfowitz said New Delhi and Washington were becoming "increasingly close". .

  

He told reporters after a meeting with Indian Defence Minister, George Fernandes, on the fringes of the Asia Security Conference in Singapore that the US appreciated India's contribution to the "fight against terrorism".

  

"We are also very pleased that there seems to be some progress being made now between India and Pakistan in improving their relations," he said.

  

Wolfowitz noted that relations between India and Pakistan were a hot topic during last year's conference due to a "severe crisis" between the two nuclear-armed neighbours at that time.

  

Ties important

  

Asked if the US was courting India as a counterbalance to China's emergence as a military and economic power, Wolfowitz replied that it was  important to have a relationship with a country like India on its own terms.

  

India and Pakistan have long been at odds over the disputed territory of Kashmir. The region is seen by military strategists as a potential flashpoint for conflict.

 

In recent weeks, India and Pakistan have re-opened diplomatic offices in each other's capital.

Relations between the two had snapped after the 13 December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament by alleged Pakistan-backed Kashmir fighters.