India’s global status growing, ties with US transformed: UPA


New Delhi : The civil nuclear deal with the US, that is yet to see its fruition, improving relations with Pakistan, firming up an action plan to strengthen ties with China and giving an economic thrust to its diplomacy with leading powers of the world are some of the foreign policy achievements the UPA government boasts after three years in power.

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The net result of these multi-faceted external engagements is "India's emerging role and status in the comity of nations," says the report card released by the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Tuesday that takes mid-way appraisal of its performance in diverse areas, including foreign policy.

"India's engagement with the rest of the world community has grown notably, as it has become ever more important to ensure a peaceful and supportive international environment conducive to India's development goals," the government said.

Despite criticism from a section of the political establishment, most notably the Leftist allies that prop the government from outside, accusing it of pro-US bias, the UPA has claimed that its foreign policy remained "independent, built on national consensus and based on supreme national interests."

"To this end, the government has accorded high priority to closer political, economic and cultural ties with India's neighbours and is expanding its network of international relationships, while preserving solidarity with traditional allies and strengthening new partnerships," says the UPA self-appraisal card.

Predictably, the transformation in the Indo-US bilateral relationship with landmark civil nuclear deal as its centrepiece, figures prominently in the list of diplomatic initiatives undertaken by the UPA government.

"Both sides had started negotiations on a bilateral agreement for implementation of the understanding of July 18, 2005 and the March 2006 Separation Plan," the report says matter-of-factly without giving a hint of hard negotiations that are currently underway to reach a bilateral civil nuclear agreement with the US that will lead to the global resumption of nuclear trade with India after nearly three decades.

Maintaining and nurturing a peaceful neighbourhood – a prerequisite for India's high economic growth to continue – tops the priority of New Delhi's foreign policy, the report says and goes on to talk about the successful SAARC summit that was hosted here in April this year.

Appraising its relations with Pakistan, the government makes it clear that the health of the peace process depends crucially on Islamabad honouring its January 6, 2004 commitment to not to allow its territory to be used for terror activities directed against New Delhi.

"The government remains concerned over infiltration and cross-border terrorism, and the dialogue process is predicated on Pakistan fulfilling its commitment not to permit any territory under its control to be used to support terrorism in any manner," it said.

"Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism has been set up during the Foreign Secretary level talks in November 2006 and will test Pakistan's resolve and commitment to combat cross-border terrorism," the report says about the mechanism that was launched in Islamabad this year.

It notes approvingly some progress in composite dialogue as signalled by the signing of a nuclear risk reduction treaty last year and a slew of confidence building measures that included the launch of a cross-border train and cross-LoC bus service to connect the divided families of Kashmir and the opening of five points on the LoC for movement of people.

Even as the two countries carry on with negotiations to solve their decades-old border row, the report card gives high marks to "sustained and comprehensive development" of relations with China as symbolised by a 10-pronged strategy, launched during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit here last year, to add greater content to their strategic partnership.

On the economic front, it is upbeat about the steady growth in bilateral trade that has already surged to $25 billion this year and is likely to reach $40 billion much before 2010.

The government is also upbeat about its growing relationship with influential regional groupings like the 27-nation European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and important global players like Russia and Japan

The report clubs together West and Central Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean in one paragraph and observes that the government has been working "to further deepen and diversify" India's relations with countries in these regions.