WASHINGTON  - India on Monday voiced caution about US-backed efforts to reach a political solution with Afghanistan’s Taliban, warning against a victory for the “dark forces of terrorism.”

Nirupama Rao, the Indian ambassador to the United States, voiced strong support for US-led military efforts in Afghanistan but said that New Delhi was “keenly watching” tentative attempts for talks with the Taliban.

“While we agree that ultimately there would have to be a political solution, we also believe that this should not become an overriding objective that needs to be achieved at all costs,” Rao said. “That would risk the prospect of a victory of those dark forces of terrorism and religious extremism that have plagued the region for so long,” she said in a speech at George Washington University.

US envoy Marc Grossman held talks this weekend in Afghanistan with President Hamid Karzai and said he found strong support for peace efforts, as the Taliban look to open an office in Qatar to facilitate talks.

Meanwhile, Rao said India has made ‘sincere efforts’ to reduce trust deficit with Pakistan with which it has a history of complicated relationship, as she expressed concern over ‘difficult terrain’ ahead.

“We are engaged in a very conscious effort, a sincere and honest effort to try and see how we can reduce the trust deficit in our relationship with Pakistan in order to see how we can move towards coherent process of normalisation. This is not going to be easy,” Rao said.

“There is a lot of difficult terrain ahead. We recognise that. We are realist about it,” she said in response to a question, reported PTI on Tuesday.

With Pakistan, its immediate neighbour, India has had a difficult, complicated and very fractious relationship for over six decades now, she said. But she argued there is need for trade and business ties to grow and the travel between the two countries to be facilitated in a smoother way.

“In Held Kashmir we have consciously worked on putting in place confidence-building measures that enable trade across the Line of Control, better transportation facilities so that people can connect more easily,” Rao said. “But fundamentally, I think we have sought to stress and emphasise Pakistan that there is need for them to act on the issue of terror. It threatens to destroy the fabric of life in themselves today. I think they realise that very well.”

The ambassador said the threat of terrorism is compounded given the possibility of intersection between terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. “We have been affected by clandestine nuclear proliferation in our neighbourhood,” she said.