‘Strategic ties with India should be US foreign policy priority’

October 30th, 2008 - 10:33 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 30 (IANS) Citing the India-US civil nuclear deal as a milestone, a senior American diplomat has put building close strategic partnerships with emerging nations like India and Brazil as key priorities for the next president.With the United States increasingly moving into a multidimensional world with more centres of power than in previous decades, different powers present different sets of challenges and opportunities, Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte said in ramarks released by the State Department Wednesday.

“But as a general matter, the United States welcomes the rise of strong, capable partners willing to assume their fair share of responsibility as stakeholders in the international system,” America’s third top diplomat said in recent remarks at the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs.

“We are particularly eager to build close strategic partnerships with large pluralistic democracies like Brazil and India,” he said focusing “on several foreign policy priorities that will likely, and in my view, should remain important issues for the next president, whomever that may be.”

“Earlier this month, we achieved a milestone in our relationship with India when President Bush signed the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement into law,” Negroponte said. “This agreement culminates eight years of steady progress, strengthening the natural bonds between our two countries.”

Such partnerships with fellow democracies are a platform for projecting influence and for cooperating on the full panorama of common interests including long-term challenges of international governance, such as free trade and climate change, he said.

“We cannot reach effective solutions to such challenges without consensus among both developed and developing major economies, especially India and China,” Negroponte said.

“Building that consensus has not been easy,” he said noting, “the Indians and the Chinese are understandably concerned about sustaining economic growth, and shielding their populations and industries from the dislocations of global trade.”

“Indeed, many Americans have similar concerns,” Negroponte said.

But as major stakeholders in the international system, especially in the global trading system from which they, as much as anyone, are benefiting, India and China, he said should join US in leading the way towards a successful conclusion of the Doha trade round and the post-Kyoto framework on climate change.

Turning to the war on terror, the senior US official said: “United States and our allies face near-term challenges from Pakistan’s reluctance and inability to roll back terrorist sanctuaries in the tribal region.”

One of the main challenges to a stable Afghanistan, and more broadly, to defeating global terrorism is the trajectory of Pakistan.”

“Pakistan is a vitally important nation,” Negroponte said noting it is the world’s third most populous Muslim state, a nuclear power and “situated in the strategically crucial neighbourhood of India, Iran, Afghanistan and China, and it is a frontline state in the war on terrorism.”

The US, Negroponte said must balance the need to address those challenges with its “longer-run interest in partnering with Pakistan’s moderate, civilian leaders to build an effective democratic state capable of co-opting or defeating its internal adversaries.”

“This objective requires supporting Pakistan’s democratic institutions and civil society groups that have their own interests in taking on violent extremism,” he said.

“It requires a long-term partnership with the Pakistani Government in a broad effort to promote the key elements necessary to Pakistan’s long-term stability.”

These elements included security, education, economic opportunity, good governance, and rule of law, especially in the tribal regions where the absence of adequate security forces and governance enable terrorists to find sanctuary, Negroponte said.

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