We will build on our partnership with India: Hillary Clinton

January 14th, 2009 - 10:12 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 14 (IANS) Describing the Mumbai terror attacks as a new challenge for American diplomacy, Hillary Clinton has vowed to build on economic and political partnership with India, “a nation with growing influence in the world”, to deal with today security threats.”Today’s security threats cannot be addressed in isolation,” she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday during her confirmation hearing for the position of secretary of state under president-elect Barack Obama.

“Smart power requires reaching out to both friends and adversaries, to bolster old alliances and to forge new ones,” she said. “That means strengthening the alliances that have stood the test of time-especially with our NATO partners and our allies in Asia.

Clinton completed her testimony Tuesday. The committee is expected to vote on her nomination Thursday and the full Senate is likely to approve her nomination before Obama takes office next Tuesday.

John Kerry, Democratic chairman of the committee, closed the hearing by saying “we are excited about the prospect of working with you.”

“Our alliance with Japan is a cornerstone of American policy in Asia, essential to maintaining peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, and based on shared values and mutual interests,” the former first lady said during her hearing.

The US “also has crucial economic and security partnerships with South Korea, Australia, and other friends in ASEAN.”

“We will build on our economic and political partnership with India, the world’s most populous democracy and a nation with growing influence in the world,” Clinton said.

Noting that the world is now in the cross currents of the most severe global economic contraction since the Great Depression,” she stressed the need to engage emerging powers like India and China to solve the crisis.

“For too long, we have merely talked about the need to engage emerging powers in global economic governance; the time to take action is upon us,” Clinton said.

“We know that emerging markets like China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Indonesia are feeling the effects of the current crisis. We all stand to benefit in both the short and long term if they are part of the solution, and become partners in maintaining global economic stability,” she said.

Hillary Clinton said that she aims to “renew America’s leadership” in a world that has undergone an “extraordinary transformation” since the end of the Cold War and is now facing “great peril.”

Calling the current US engagement in Afghanistan the “greatest priority for the president-elect”, she promised to use “diplomacy, development and defence” to work with allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which she referred to as “the central front in the war on terrorism.”

President-elect Barack Obama will pursue a “more for more” strategy in Afghanistan, where additional US support will be supplemented by more NATO and Afghan government support, she said.

Clinton also emphasised the need to look at the problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan together, and said it is “imperative” to work with both of them to root out Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other violent extremists.

“Terrorism remains a serious threat,” Clinton said stressing the need for “a comprehensive strategy, leveraging intelligence, diplomacy, and military assets to defeat Al Qaeda and like-minded terrorists by rooting out their networks and drying up support for their violent and nihilistic extremism.”

On Iraq, she called the withdrawal of US troops a “primary priority” and said it would occur within the context of the current Status of Forces Agreement.

The Obama administration hopes to remove US troops from Iraqi cities and villages by June 2009, and redeploy some of those troops to Afghanistan.

But as it focuses on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, US “must also actively pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the security needs of Israel and the legitimate political and economic aspirations of the Palestinians,” she said.

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