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US committed to back India's UNSC bid

June 04, 2010 03:53 IST

Calling India a "rising global power", the US said on Thursday that it was "definitely committed" to consider New Delhi for a permanent membership in an expanded UN Security Council and pitched for its greater role in meeting challenges in the region like securing Afghanistan.

Launching the first-ever Strategic Dialogue with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to dispel "doubts" that the US sees India "only or mainly in the context of Afghanistan and Pakistan" and that America "will hasten our departure from Afghanistan leaving India to deal with the aftermath." She said America felt that India had not "fully embraced" its role in regional and global affairs and said the US was "definitely committed" to consider New Delhi for a permanent membership in an expanded UN Security Council. "We don't have any way forward yet on the United Nations Security Council reforms but we are obviously very committed to considering India," she said, addressing a joint press conference with Krishna after the inaugural session of the Strategic Dialogue. "At this point, as you probably know, there is no consensus over all...but we are definitely committed to the consideration of India," she said in response to a query what is stopping the US from endorsing India for a permanent membership in an expanded UNSC.

During the Strategic Dialogue, the two sides discussed situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan region and decided to step up cooperation in a wide range of areas, including security, defence, nuclear energy, climate change, education and agriculture. They also decided to launch a new dialogue on climate change and set up working groups on food security issues. The two sides also agreed to meet again in New Delhi next year. Krishna said the two countries had a very good exchange of views on reforms necessary not only in the international economic architecture, but also in the global political and security architecture, including the UN Security Council, so as to reflect contemporary global realities.

The minister said both the countries agreed that terrorist groups operate as a syndicate, leveraging each other's assets and strength, and are increasingly converging together on motivation and targets. "Hence, a segmented approach towards terrorism, especially in our neighbourhood, would not succeed," he said in an apparent reference to Pakistan. He said India was pleased with the way the counter- terrorism cooperation between the two countries has progressed and that they have agreed to intensify it further.

Clinton described India as an "indispensable partner" and a "trusted friend." "We believe that a rising India is good for the United States and good for the world. Our two nations, great democracies, dynamic and interconnected economies and engines of progress, understand that our fortunes in this new century are increasingly linked," she said. "Our people are more connected today than ever before, and we face complex global challenges that will be difficult to solve without the United States and India working together," she said. Noting that both India and the United States have experienced violent extremists, Clinton said she and Krishna discussed the importance of India's leadership to promoting security, stability and prosperity across Asia and beyond. The two countries are collaborating on a counter-terrorism cooperation initiative to improve information-sharing and capacity-building, and they agreed to expand cooperation in cyber security.

"We are deepening our already-extensive military- to-military partnership," she said. Krishna said both India and the US shared concerns about developments in Asia, including on the Korean peninsula. "We have a common interest in advancing security and stability across Asia. We shared our perspectives on South and Central Asia, East and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean Region," he said. He said India and the US have a shared convergent goal of a stable, peaceful, pluralistic and democratic Afghanistan, which protects the rights and the dignity of all sections of Afghan society. "India and the United States are partners in achieving these goals. I conveyed our view that these goals can be best advanced through sustained international commitment to Afghanistan, by building Afghan capacities for governance and security through initiatives that are led and controlled by the Afghans themselves," he said. "We agreed on the importance of avoiding choices that lead us into the dark alleys of the 1990s, and the importance of safeguarding the gains and progress that have been made since then, especially with regard to the position and rights of women in Afghanistan," Krishna said. He said today's dialogue has further increased understanding between the two countries on the nature and source of terrorism that threatens both our societies.
Krishna also sought the US to relax export control restrictions on high-tech goods sought by India.

Earlier, in her opening remarks at the start of the dialogue, Clinton said: "India is a rising global power and already a regional power in Asia. Thus more the need to work closely with India to meet the immediate challenges in the neighbourhood including Afghanistan." "India and the US must play a leading role in shaping the destiny of the 21st century," he said. Hailing India's contribution towards rebuilding of Afghanistan, Clinton said New Delhi has stakes in the future of the trouble-torn country."In this dialogue, we will confront regional issues, most importantly securing Afghanistan's future. India and the
US and countries of the world have a stake in Afghanistan and India's contribution to Afghanistan's future, including 1.3
billion dollar assistance have been positive and significant," she said.
      
She talked about "doubts in America that India hasn't fully embraced its role in regional and global affairs or will not make the economic reforms needed to faster additional progress. "So with this dialogue, the level of confidence that we have established by ourselves, we will confront these concerns directly and candidly." In his opening remarks, Krishna said, "We both have an abiding interest in a stable international order and in the maintenance of peace and stability in Asia and beyond, and a tremendous opportunity is now before us to work together to achieve this objective."

At the joint interaction, Clinton thanked Krishna for India's generous contributions in Afghanistan. "It is clear that what India has been doing in development projects are very significant, and we look forward to finding ways to collaborate," she said. Observing that charting an energy future that is secure and sustainable is a crucial challenge for both the countries, she said: "I'm pleased that we have completed a nuclear reprocessing agreement nearly six months ahead of schedule, underlying our commitment to the civil nuclear accord of 2008." "We are building on the partnership to advance clean
energy established by President Obama and Minister Singh, including by expanding our work together on energy efficiency,
smart grids, force management and so much else. And we are committed to working on an action plan on shale-gas cooperation prior to President Obama's trip to India."

On economy, she said the two delegation discussed the importance of capitalising on the doubling of their trade over the last five years, bringing together experts from across our government to focus on macroeconomic policy, financial-sector reforms and infrastructure financing.
Clinton said US and Indian Cabinet secretaries and ministers will meet on June 22nd in Washington with the members of the US-India CEO Forum to hear recommendations on specific steps the two governments can take to expand trade and investment. She said the dialogue must extend beyond these official channels "to our homes, our businesses, our communities, our universities, every aspect of our respective societies -- to build mutual understanding and respect between our peoples."

Krishna noted that the institution of the Strategic Dialogue was a reflection of the deepening and broadening of our relations between the two countries. In her unusually lengthy speech – lasting more than 13 minutes -- Clinton touched upon a wide range of issues from counter-terrorism to climate change, clean energy, food security, international security, bilateral cooperation in the education sector, the civilian nuclear deal and went on to praise India's role in Afghanistan.
      
She assured the Indian delegation that the US is well aware of India's concerns in the region, Afghanistan in particular and would work with New Delhi to address those. Krishna said the global nature of the security challenges being faced today, particularly the threat posed by transnational terrorism, requires the two countries to cooperate more closely than ever before. "Though the epicenter of this threat lies in India's neighborhood, it reaches far and wide all across the world as
we have seen time and again and most recently a few weeks back in Times Square," he said in an apparent reference to
Pakistan. "Given the fact that the groups who preach the ideology of hatred and violence are increasingly coalescing,
sharing resources and operating as one, it is incumbent upon all of us, to focus our efforts laser-like on every one of them," he said.
       
Targeting only one or other of such groups would only provide false comfort in the short term and will not usher in long term stability," he said in an obvious reference to Pakistan's inability to act against LeT, blamed for the Mumbai attacks. Besides Krishna, other members of the Indian delegation are HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, Minister of State for Science and Technology, Prithviraj Chavan, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Foreign Secretary
Nirupama Rao.
       
The US delegation included Energy Secretary Steven Chu; Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns and Deputy National Security Adviser Michale Froman.
Responding to a question, Krishna said the relationship between India and the US, will go a long way in sending out a message clear and loud, that these are two democracies which believe in equality, which believe in equal respect, and which also believes that we have a bigger role to play in shaping the destinies of humankind. "And this strategic dialogue is moving in that direction," he asserted.
 
Clinton said she and Krishna would respectively be presenting a report on this dialogue to US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "I hope that our press on both sides will focus on it, because we really are committed to trying to invigorate the actions that will demonstrate exactly what Minister Krishna talked about, our commitment to advancing humankind," she said.
 
"So I know that it won't necessarily get headlines in either one of our media, but, you know, working to expand access to higher education is a huge deal. Working to better coordinate on science, technology and innovation, exchanging scientists, supporting centres of excellence, who knows what benefits will flow from that? Working to improve the productivity of agriculture, exchanging views on how best we can deal with health issues that are, you know, going to overwhelm our respective health systems," Clinton added. "I mean, there's just so much, so much richness, so much of a commitment, and I'm very much looking forward to this cotinuing work," she asserted.
 
Responding to a question, Clinton said the current partnership represents both continuity and change.   "As Minister Krishna said, we have a long, enduring relationship with India, going back to independence.   We have had many partnerships that have proven beneficial, to both of our countries, going back through that time.   Certainly the Green Revolution, which was an
American-Indian project, stands as one of the great achievements of the 20th century or perhaps all of human history," she said."So the continuity that was evidenced by my husband's (Bill Clinton as the US President) efforts to reach out to India -- evidenced by President (George) Bush's continuing efforts and a commitment to a tangible demonstration of the modern state of our relationship with the civic-nuclear deal -- has now come to a point where we wish to both continue and deepen the enduring relationship," Clinton said adding that both India and the US want to broaden the base of that relationship.

So the comprehensive agenda that is encompassed by this strategic dialogue goes far beyond one project or one visit or any single aspect, Clinton added. Instead we are committed to not only working government to government, as we have been today and as we have for the last year, but also building on the very strong foundation that exists between the Indian and Americanpeoples, she said. Asserting that this "is an affair of the heart, not just of the head", she said the relationship between India and the United States and between the peoples is rooted in common values, shared aspirations. "We know we have different historical experiences. We have different cultural perspectives. We understand that. But underneath it, in addition to our common humanity, there is this commitment to democracy and diversity, to the rule of law, to the empowerment of people that sets the United States and India apart," she said. Clinton said this is a relationship that is so rooted in "our" values, and that's it stands the test of time, despite the vicissitudes that come between any two great countries or any two people, for that matter.

"But persisting and understanding and working through on a basis of mutual respect is how we intend to build an even stronger relationship through the mechanism of this strategic dialogue in the years ahead," she said. Krishna welcomed the Obama Administration's National Security Strategy which identified India along with China and Russia with whom the US needs to broaden its strategic partnership. "President Obama's strategy statement is a very welcome development, from India's point of view. While we always feel comforted with our association with the United States, our partnership has gone throughvarious vicissitudes. But one thing stands out very clear, that it is an enduring partnership. And we would like to continue that partnership," he said "While doing so, we do appreciate the enormous responsibilities that partnership puts on India, perhaps on the United States also. Well, India is willing to discharge its part of the responsibility. We are thankful to President Obama for the kind of strategy statements that have been made on his behalf. And, well, needless for me to say that millions of Indians are looking forward to President Obama's visit later this year to India," he said. "I was delighted to learn at lunch how deep the ties between India and Afghanistan go back. It is clear that what India has been doing in development projects are very significant, and we look forward to finding ways to collaborate," Clinton said.

Observing that charting an energy future that is secure and sustainable is a crucial challenge for both the countries, she said: "I'm pleased that we have completed a nuclear reprocessing agreement nearly six months ahead of schedule, underlying our commitment to the civil nuclear accord of 2008" "We are building on the partnership to advance clean energy established by President Obama and Minister Singh, including by expanding our work together on energy efficiency, smart grids, force management and so much else. And we are committed to working on an action plan on shale-gas cooperation prior to President Obama's trip to India. We have launched a new dialogue on climate change, discussing how to continue the progress made in Copenhagen and work more closely together," she said. On the economy, she said the two delegation discussed the importance of capitalizing on the doubling of their trade over the last five years, bringing together experts from across our government to focus on macroeconomic policy, financial-sector reforms and infrastructure financing. "US and Indian Cabinet secretaries and ministers will meet on June 22nd in Washington with the members of the US-India CEO Forum to hear recommendations on specific steps our two governments can take to expand trade and investment,"she noted. Clinton said the dialogue must extend beyond these official channels "to our homes, our businesses, our communities, our universities, every aspect of our respective societies -- to build mutual understanding and respect between our peoples," she said.

Responding to a question on Afghanistan, Krishna said India made its position very clear at the recent London conference. "There we spelled out that anyone or any group of persons who disassociate themselves from various terrorist outfits and who are willing to go along accepting the Afghanistan constitution and then the Afghan-led government by President (Hamid) Karzai, then we should not have any problems in dealing with them and then in bringing them to the mainstream of Afghan society," he said. Observing that India and Afghanistan have a very close relationship, going back to centuries, Krishna said India has a historical and civilisation affinity with Afghanistan. "Our contribution in Afghanistan is of very constructive nature. It is not military-driven. It is development-driven. We are concentrating, in spite of the price that we have had to pay," he said referring to the numerous terrorist attacks on Indians in Afghanistan. "I visited Kabul twice, and then I have conveyed to those who are working under such difficult circumstances, where India has been the target of attack -- and we know the reason, and that knowing the reason, knowing the motives, we are going to stay in Afghanistan to defeat these terrorist mechanisations," he asserted.

Responding to a question, Krishna said this relationship between India and the US, will go a long way in sending out a message clear and loud, that these are two democracies which believe in equality, which believe in equal respect, and which also believes that we have a bigger role to play in shaping the destinies of humankind. "And this strategic dialogue is moving in that direction," he asserted. Clinton said she and Krishna would respectively be presenting a report on this dialogue to the US President Barack Obama and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "I hope that our press on both sides will focus on it, because we really are committed to trying to invigorate the actions that will demonstrate exactly what Minister Krishna talked about, our commitment to advancing humankind,"she said. "So I know that it won't necessarily get headlines in either one of our media, but, you know, working to expand access to higher education is a huge deal. Working to better coordinate on science, technology and innovation, exchanging scientists, supporting centres of excellence, who knows what benefits will flow from that? Working to improve the productivity of agriculture, exchanging views on how best we can deal with health issues that are, you know, going to overwhelm our respective health systems.

Clinton said there is no military solution to most conflicts. "This is not unique in that regard. There have to be political decisions that go along with military actions. We have told President Karzai most recently on his visit that we understand that. And we support his efforts. But of course, we want to be kept fully informed. And we want to be able to work with him," she said. "It is clear that there are some people who call themselves Taliban who already are coming off the battlefield. They want to return home. They have no ideological commitment. Then there are others who tried to blow up the peace jirga," she said. Clinton said this is a painstaking work to try to identify those with whom there may be the opportunity for some political reconciliation, and others for whom there is noprospect. "They have to be defeated and deterred from their continuing violence against the people of Afghanistan, against our troops," she said. "They have to be rooted out of their safe havens in Pakistan, where they are being a very grave threat to the government of Pakistan now." So this is a matter that, crosses borders, poses a transnational threat, as we have seen on numerous occasions, and must be undertaken with full awareness of that," Clinton said. The Secretary of State said the US has been very clear in its approach that its thinks that there is basis for reintegrating Taliban fighters back into society. "But we do not believe anyone should be either reintegrated or reconciled on a political basis without renouncing the Al Qaeda, renouncing violence, committing to live by the laws and constitution of the nation of Afghanistan," Clinton said in response to a question.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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