India, US interests are complementary: Kissinger

November 16th, 2008 - 8:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNew Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Underlining the need for integrating the rising Asian powers in the international system, former US secretary of state and Nobel laureate Henry Kissinger Sunday said the relations between India and the US are “unusually close” and are likely to become stronger in days to come. “Relations between India and the US are unusually close. Indian and American interests are complementary,” Kissinger said at a discussion at the India Economic Summit, a conclave of policymakers and intellectuals organized by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“In major areas, there is an extraordinary parallelism of interests. In the whole region from Singapore to Cairo, we have identical interests,” Kissinger replied when asked whether mistrust and indifference that characterized India-US relations for decades during the Cold War era will continue in the future.

“I am very optimistic. Relations are likely to become even closer. But that does not include differences in perception on some issues,” said the 75-year-old diplomat and academic who was described by some as “President for Foreign Affairs”, due to his influence in Washington with successive administrations.

Kissinger, known in India for his unflattering remarks about late prime minister Indira Gandhi, also sounded upbeat about an evolving international order in which Asian powers like India and China will play an important role.

“There is a shift in the centre of gravity from Europe to Asia and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The rising states of Asia need to be integrated into the international system,” said Kissinger, who served as national security adviser and secretary of state in the Richard Nixon presidency.

Kissinger is credited for groundbreaking visits to Beijing and Moscow and his famous “shuttle diplomacy” in the Middle East that brought about a ceasefire following the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and earned him the Nobel Peace prize.

Kissinger, who has advised many American presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, on foreign policy issues, also surprised many by endorsing US president-elect Barack Obama’s invitation to Hillary Clinton for the post of secretary of state.

“I have not been consulted on the subject,” he said archly, triggering waves of laughter from the audience.

”It shows great courage on part of the new president-elect to appoint a strong personality with an independent constituency,” he said.

”It’s a symbol of a new approach. She is a lady of great intelligence,” he added.

Kissinger, who predictably backed Republican contender John McCain, was, however, sanguine about the future of America under the Obama presidency.

“Obama was my second choice. This is a moment for non-partisanship in America. It’s an extraordinary opportunity,” he said.

Placing the global financial crisis in larger geopolitical perspective, Kissinger said the crisis was a technical as well as a structural problem that required global cooperation.

“America will still be the single strongest country. But it will have to adopt a multilateral approach to global issues,” he said.

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