Biden to Visit Pakistan and Afghanistan As Tensions in Region Flare Up

Vice President-elect Joe Biden will visit Pakistan and Afghanistan in the coming days, ABC News has learned, just as tensions between India and Pakistan are increasing in the wake of the November terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that "given the sophistication and military precision of the attack, it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan," comments that prompted Pakistani officials to accuse India of leading the region to a military confrontation. Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said, "If India takes military action against Pakistan, it would be a big mistake. India is pushing this region to war." The Obama Transition Team this week announced that Biden, who remains a U.S. Senator, will be accompanying his colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to Southwest Asia, though it did not specify which countries. Also traveling will be Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who will replace Biden as chair of the committee, Sens. Jack Reed, D-RI, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lindsey Graham, R-SC. As a candidate for president, President-elect Obama made Southwest Asia a focus of his foreign policy, saying the U.S. should send more troops to Afghanistan to fight terrorists there, and should be willing to send troops into Pakistan to attack high-value terrorist targets if given actionable intelligence , with or without Pakistani government permission. At the time Biden criticized Obama for making such a public pronouncement about Pakistan, saying it showed his then-rival's inexperience in foreign affairs. -- jpt

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