India can influence the US, says PM aide

March 1st, 2009 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) India had sent a “very strong demarche” which led to the US removing India from the mandate of special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, according to the prime minister’s special envoy on climate change, Shyam Saran.
Saran said this during a question and answer session, after delivering a speech on the geo-strategic implications of the financial crisis Saturday evening, adding that India was able to communicate its concern on including India in Holbrooke’s mandate as an example of an early dialogue with the Obama Administration.

“As you have seen in the case of the mandate for the special representative from the United States, I think the fact that we made a very strong demarche concerning that and how this will not be well-received in India, it did have an impact,” he said.

“Therefore, we should not take it for granted that we are not in a position to influence decisions that are being taken there”.

Saran made this observation when talking about the possibility of the US government putting in place protectionist measures, which could adversely affect Indian economic interests.

Noting that while there is “no doubt that there is a trend toward protectionism”, Saran also cautioned that India should “not jump the gun” yet since the impact on the ground has not really started to take place, in the context of the US measure affecting the Indian IT industry.

Therefore, he said that it was “very important that we should intensify our dialogue with the new administration”.

“We may not be able to address our concerns, unless we have a high-level early dialogue with the new administration,” Saran said.

Earlier, during the campaign period in October 2008, US president Barack Obama had stated that in order to make Pakistan focus on its domestic militancy, US should mediate between it and India to resolve the Kashmir imbroglio.

This led to reports that the US was including India in Holbrooke’s mandate.

Then, in a television interview broadcast last month, national security advisor M.K. Narayanan said India had been concerned about Obama’s linking Pakistan’s settlement on its western border and the Kashmir issue and had conveyed the issue to the US.

“I do think that we could make President Obama understand; if he does have any such views then he is barking up the wrong tree,” he said.

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