In the first remarks on what India and South Asia could expect from a Hillary Clinton administration, one of her senior aides indicated continuity on Tuesday.
“There is already a real growth in our relationships, with key South Asian countries over the course of the last seven years,” Daniel Feldman, a foreign policy adviser to Democratic nominee Clinton, told reporters in response to a question.
“There’s enormous continued opportunity to expand and strengthen those relationships, and I’m sure that she will continue to take advantage of that,” he said.
Feldman served in US state department’s office of the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and has dealt with South Asia at length over a long career, working with Clinton when she was secretary of state and her successor John Kerry.
Reproduced here are long stretches from his comments as these are the first policy remarks about a possible Clinton administration’s policy on South Asia.
“Look to her commitments to South Asia when she was secretary, her frequent travel there – and I accompanied her to India, to Pakistan, to Afghanistan, all numerous times,” Feldman said. “Her commitment to continue to try to knit together this – one of the least connected regions of the world, between South and Central Asia.”
Clinton, as president, will remain committed to “economic and commercial dialogues, including elevating strategic dialogues with several countries of the region”.
Fedlman also referred to Clinton’s commitment to multilateral approaches to regional issues, “whether from the broader international community, as we saw in Afghanistan, to continuing to try to strengthen and empower key regional initiatives like she did with the Heart of Asia process and others”.
Neither Republican nominee Donald Trump nor his campaign have said much on South Asia, but their party platform (or manifesto) released during their convention last week called India a “geopolitical ally” and “strategic trading partner” and raised concerns about religion-related violence.
The platform also stressed the need to secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and questioned its commitment to combatting terrorism.