After a gap of nearly a decade, a joint statement issued by the US and China has named India and Pakistan.
US President Barack Obama repeated this during a press briefing later, saying the two countries had agreed to work together to bring about “peaceful relations in all of South Asia.”
<b1>On Tuesday, Obama and Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao announced plans to work together on a range of international issues. But the statement had an unexpected line: that the two sides “support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan.”
“The two sides welcomed all efforts conducive to peace, stability and development in South Asia," said the statement. “They support the efforts of Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight terrorism, maintain domestic stability...the two sides are ready to strengthen communication, dialogue and cooperation on issues related to South Asia and work together to promote peace and development in that region.”
This will go down poorly in India. Not only has it long argued its relations with Pakistan are a bilateral issue, the joint statement has given the impression the US sees China as the dominant power broker in Asia. The most favourable interpretation is that Washington’s real interest is to persuade Beijing to exert its considerable influence with Pakistan.
The last US-China joint statement that spoke of India was when President Bill Clinton visited Beijing just after India’s 1998 nuclear tests. Clinton was strongly criticised in India for the statement.
(with inputs from Pramit Pal Chaudhuri)