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India can outgrow China: Bill Clinton

Former US president Bill Clinton has said India has the potential to outgrow China if it makes peace with Pakistan.

world Updated: Oct 13, 2009 22:59 IST

Former US president Bill Clinton has said India has the potential to outgrow China if it makes peace with Pakistan.

This peace between the two countries could lead to a more modern Afghanistan and contribute to a worldwide drawdown of nuclear weapons, he said speaking at the Indian Institute of Technology's Global Conference 2009 in Chicago on Saturday.

In turn this could even indirectly influence a reduction of conflict in the Middle East, Clinton said when asked how India could play a more significant role in the UN and G20 in the future.

"If you [India] did not have to raise defence spending 20 percent a year and these countries could be working together I think you will grow faster than China," he said adding, "I think this idea that the Chinese are going to dominate the 21st century is not necessarily true.

"It depends mostly what you do and if you can continue to pour money into the development of the people and reduce inequalities in India...not the standoffs along the 1971 line or the fights over Kashmir or what ever," said Clinton.

"It's easier to say than to do, I know that especially after what happened in Mumbai, where I watched the hotel room I always stay in burning, I know that," he said referring to the stalling of India-Pakistan peace talks after the 26/11 terrorist attacks.

But "I'm just telling you if Indian-Americans and Pakistani Americans could find ways to work together it would make a big difference".

"The same thing is true in Afghanistan. I see this all the time. Every time India does something in Afghanistan, Pakistan thinks it is directed against it and vice versa," Clinton said.

"But the truth is if the two countries could find a way to work together and do common projects there, it would do more to stabilize Afghanistan and bring it into a 21st century mindset...," he said.

"If that one thing could be done on the Indian subcontinent it would revolutionise the century in ways no one can imagine. It would help to reduce the nuclear threat the world faces," Clinton said adding, "It would help reduce the rush all these other countries are making to get nuclear weapons.

"It would indirectly play a major role in encouraging a reduction of tensions in the Middle East. And I think India and Pakistan together would outgrow China in the 21st century."