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Nuclear, economic ties with India important: US

Richard Boucher has said that civilian nuclear partnership and opening up of economic cooperation are among the most important areas in Indo-US ties.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 15:45 IST
Sridhar Krishnaswami (PTI)
Sridhar Krishnaswami (PTI)

Observing that US has embarked on a strategic partnership with "rising global power" India, Richard Boucher, the Assistant Secretary of State designate for South Asia on Thursday said a civilian nuclear partnership and opening up of economic cooperation are among the most important areas in Indo-US ties.

"We have embarked upon building a global strategic partnership with India. President (George W Bush) will be travelling to India in the coming weeks to continue a strong, forward looking relationship with this rising global power," Boucher said in prepared remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his confirmation hearing as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.

Boucher, the former State Department Spokesman and a career foreign service officer, stressed that upon confirmation he will work closely with other agencies and organisations "to bring to fruition" the initiatives Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have undertaken.

"The wide ranging nature of these projects clearly illustrates the kind of encompassing relationship we hope to develop with India. Opening new areas to economic cooperation and concluding a civilian nuclear partnership are two of the most important areas at this moment," he said.

"Beyond that we need to look at all the areas where our international interests intersect with those of India and where we can advance our interests by partnering with India in this region and beyond. Some areas that spring to mind are agriculture, democracy building, disaster relief, education and science and technology," he added.

He maintained that as the US was beginning the new strategic engagement with India, it would also continue the long friendship with Pakistan and that a "stable and friendly relationship between these keystone nations" is essential for South and Central Asia.

"We are encouraged by the most recent round of the composite dialogue held less than a month ago in New Delhi. Confidence building measures such as the opening of bus and rail links are helping to create a constituency for peace in both nations. We will continue to encourage peace efforts between the two countries including a resolution on the question of Kashmir," Boucher remarked.

The Assistant Secretary of State-designate took the opportunity to scan other nations in South Asia noting, "Fighting and strife exist elsewhere in this region as well."

Boucher said the US Administration is looking forward to the ceasefire talks next week between Sri Lankan government and the Tamil tiger rebels in Geneva.

"Our diplomats... Will continue our work to bring resolution to this violent struggle," he noted.

Boucher briefly touched on the "difficult situation" in Nepal saying the "internal struggle" can only be addressed by King Gyanendra by taking steps to reverse the course he had embarked on a year ago.

"And in Bangladesh we are looking forward to free and fair parliamentary elections next year with the full and active participation of all parties," he said.

At the outset, the State Department nominee said the success of US policy in South and Central Asia is critically important to American national interests and that the prime objective of the Bush administration was not in setting out on a campaign to overturn troubled leaders or governments.

"...We seek to champion change and reform to produce a more stable, prosperous and integrated region through the advance of freedom," Boucher said.

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 01:44 IST