India will play a more active role in Middle East: Kissinger

Updated on Nov 17, 2015 10:07 PM IST

India hasn’t given up on 39 of its citizens held hostage by Islamic State since June last year, but doesn’t see itself as a player in the region. Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger is not so sure.

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.(AP File Photo)
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.(AP File Photo)
Hindustan Times | ByYashwant Raj

India hasn’t given up on 39 of its citizens held hostage by Islamic State since June last year, but doesn’t see itself as a player in the region. Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger is not so sure.

The man said to be counsellor to every American president in the last 40 years believes India will be a substantive player in the Middle East, which New Delhi calls West Asia.

“It’s very probable that India will play a more active role because its own internal survival is dependent on, affected by, what happens to the radicalization in the region,” Kissinger said.

The former national security adviser and secretary of state to President Richard Nixon and the man responsible for US-China detente was speaking at a think tank event in DC on Monday.

India has had a limited role in the region, which is determined mostly by its citizens working there — the annual repatriation is a significant chunk of the nearly $70 billion received in remittances from the global diaspora annually. And, its impact on domestic politics.

New Delhi has followed with continuing concern news, any news, about the fate of 39 Indians held captive by Islamic State since June last year. They are said to be safe.

But India has shown little interest in getting involved in the politics of the region, not publicly at least, leave along seeking a role for itself in brokering a solution.

Kissinger, a widely respected strategic thinker, spoke about India in response to a question if France and Britain, as long time players in the region, understood it the best.

“Many of our European allies, certainly Britain and France, have a long experience but have in effect resigned from the management of the crisis,” he said.

He argued that the situation must be seen from the perspective of a new world that’s emerging. “We are too focused on a world that was created by a few European countries 150 years ago.”

He added, “We have to understand what the new forces are.”

India is one of them. Kissinger also spoke of China, saying, it could start playing a strategic role. Both countries are concerned about the effects of radicalization, but have so far sat it out.

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