?Bush looking forward to India visit?

The State Department?s number three, who was recently in India on a State visit, explains why India matters to the United States in the new scenario.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2005 18:34 IST

What’s changed to make the US talk about making India a major power in the 21st century?
Two things. First, the Cold War has really ended. The unusual, unique structure in the balance of power globally created by the Cold War has broken down. The US was the ultimate aligned nation. India was the ultimate nonaligned nation during the Cold War. And now we are in a new phase of history where our interests are converging.

Second, the greatest challenges of the future are going to be transnational. Climate change, WMD proliferation, terrorism — we have to overcome them. We cannot approach these problems on our own, unilaterally. We need strategic partners who can operate on a global basis. India has that global ability.

Is the US-China relationship different?
Yes. China is a very important country with which we have a very important relationship. I wouldn’t say we have a strategic partnership with them. The difference is values. India and the US are both democracies. We are personifications of globalisation in the world in terms of our structures.

George W. Bush is personally driving this new relationship...
I think he appreciates the fact that India is a rising power in the world. That the world balance of power is shifting and India is the personification of the kind of friend he would like to have.

President Bush is looking forward to visiting India in 2006. Despite the fact he may never have travelled here before, he is someone who has spent five years thinking about our foreign policy and our place in the world. He has clearly articulated India as a priority. We who work for him have that clear instruction.

Bush is in his last term. Will all this continue after he leaves office?President Bush still has three more years in office. He is going to have a major impact on US foreign policy in those three years. Beyond that, there is no strategic difference between Republicans and Democrats regarding India. I have been getting very strong support among Democrats for this opening to India. Members of Congress and members of the Democratic establishment. So there is no difference of opinion in our country. I think that when Bush leaves office, who ever succeeds him will continue to find strong support for this partnership we have with India.

If so, how do you account for the strong opposition in the US Congress? Or your asking that we begin separating our nuclear programme to ensure a ‘yes’ vote in Congress?
If you go back to the July 18 agreement it says India will separate civilian and nuclear programmes. This is not a new condition. We are not moving the goalposts. This is an original obligation for India. We both have obligations. The US has obligations that we are meeting. I would not agree that somehow there is substantial opposition to the civilian nuclear agreement in our Congress. I have testified before Congress and I have met many members of the Hill and I think there is across the board support. There is some criticism. That is not surprising, there are 500 plus legislators. But I believe that when the US and India have implemented their obligations, Congress will support the agreement. And the changes will be made to American law.

Are you trying to make us partner to a containment of China, a future Cold War?
We do not seek to contain China. We do not seek to isolate China. China is too big, too powerful a country and frankly too intertwined with us economically — and now in terms of foreign policy — for us to even contemplate such a construct. You have even seen relations between the US and China improve over the four or five years.

Your present statements stress the importance of Pakistan and India to US interests. How will you square this circle?
American governments tended to have policy in South Asia that was hyphenated. We tended to hyphenate India with Pakistan. We want to dehyphenate the two.

We have a strategic relationship with India. We are now working together in science, education, agriculture, in trade, business and investment.

We have a very different relationship with Pakistan. It is centred on security, counter-terrorism, and making Pakistan effective in that realm.

First Published: Oct 31, 2005 18:34 IST