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India to be influential power in future: Dempsey

As the US is balancing itself in the Pacific in view of the rise of China, top Pentagon General today said India will be an influential player in the future.

world Updated: May 03, 2012 15:41 IST

As the US is balancing itself in the Pacific in view of the rise of China, top Pentagon General today said India will be an influential player in the future.

Speaking at a Washington-based think-tank, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey also expressed concern over terrorist safe havens inside Pakistan.

"There is this other country called India over here that is also modestly sized and probably will be somewhat influential in the future," Dempsey said amidst laughter during his appearance at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington-based think-tank.

"We are balancing ourselves back into the Pacific. That's not a containment strategy for China," he said, adding that one of his job in this position is to help avoid war.

"I don't know how many of you study history, but Thucydides, the Greek historian, described what he called the 'Thucydides Trap', and it goes something like this -- it was Athenian fear of a rising Sparta that made war inevitable.

Well, I think that one of my jobs as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and as an adviser to our senior leaders, is to help avoid a Thucydides trap," he said.

"We don't want the fear of an emerging China to make war inevitable. So Thucydides - so we're going to avoid Thucydides trap. And I think there's more opportunities than liabilities for us in the Pacific. Of course you've heard all of our senior leaders say we embrace a rising China," he said.

Dempsey said later this month, he is headed to Singapore to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue during which he is hopeful to meet his Chinese counterpart.

"I'm hopeful that my Chinese counterpart will be there, and we'll talk very openly and transparently about what we're trying to do in the Pacific to both build these partners, and what those partnerships are intended to do," he said.

"And simply stated, they're intended to ensure stability, and they're also intended to assure and they're intended to make it clear that we have some interest in navigation and commerce and access to which we intend to live, meaning we need to live up to those responsibilities that we have as an Asia-Pacific partner," he said.

The General also said that America's relationship with Pakistan is complex and the "misunderstanding" and "mistrust" between the two nations goes back to decades.

"The question of our relationship with Pakistan in general is one of complexity. I mean, deep complexity. Also, some pretty significant commitment, military to military, a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of mistrust, fundamentally, and this is not a new phenomenon. It goes back, truthfully, decades," Dempsey said in response to a question.

"We are concerned, have been concerned, have been pretty up front with them. I try not to have the relationship play out in public, but, rather, work it as closely as I can privately. But I do remain concerned about the safe havens that run along the eastern Afghan border, the western Pakistan border," Dempsey said.

First Published: May 03, 2012 15:39 IST