Obama to build ties with ‘natural strategic ally’ India

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : If elected president, Democratic candidate Barack Obama will pursue effective collaboration with major powers while deepening ties with emerging ones like China, Russia and India, which the party looks at as a “natural strategic ally” of the US.

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Under Obama’s presidency, the US “will pursue effective collaboration on pressing global issues among all the major powers – including such newly emerging ones as China, India, Russia, Brazil, Nigeria, and South Africa,” said the Democratic Party Draft Platform for 2008 approved by the platform committee in Pittsburgh.

The document now goes for adoption to the Aug 25-28 Democratic Party Convention in Denver where Obama is expected to be anointed as the presidential candidate.

“With India, we will build on the close partnership developed over the past decade,” it said. “As two of the world’s great, multi-ethnic democracies, the US and India are natural strategic allies, and we must work together to advance our common interests and to combat the common threats of the 21st century.”

“We believe it is in the United States’ interest that all of these emerging powers and others assume a greater stake in promoting international peace, and respect for human rights, including through their more constructive participation in key global institutions,” the draft said.

“We are committed to US engagement in Asia. This begins with maintaining strong relationships with allies like Japan, Australia, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines and deepening our ties to vital democratic partners like India, in order to create a stable and prosperous Asia,” the draft document says.

“We must also forge a more effective framework in Asia that goes beyond bilateral agreements, occasional summits, and ad hoc diplomatic arrangements. We need an open and inclusive infrastructure with the countries in Asia that can promote stability, prosperity and human rights, and help confront trans-national threats,” it added.

The US will confront this century’s threats “head on while working with our allies and restoring our standing in the world”, the draft said, by pursuing “a tough, smart and principled national security strategy” that recognizes that “the US has interests not just in Baghdad, but in Kandahar and Karachi, in Beijing, Berlin, Brasilia and Bamako”.

“It is a strategy that contends with the many disparate forces shaping this century, including: the fundamentalist challenge to freedom; the emergence of new powers like China, India, Russia and a united Europe.”

Obama will focus this strategy on seven goals:

(i) Ending the war in Iraq responsibly, (ii) defeating Al Qaeda and combating violent extremism, (iii) securing nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists, (iv) revitalizing and supporting US military, (v) renewing US partnerships to promote our common security, (vi) advancing democracy and development, and (vii) protecting the planet by achieving energy security and combating climate change.

The US under Obama will encourage China to play a responsible role as a growing power -to help lead in addressing the common problems of the 21st century, the draft said.

“It’s time to engage China on common interests like climate change, trade and energy, even as we continue to encourage its shift to a more open society and a market-based economy and promote greater respect for human rights.”

To fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, as well as malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases, the US will provide $50 billion over five years to strengthen existing US programmes and expand them to new regions of the world, including Southeast Asia, India, and parts of Europe, where the HIV/AIDS burden is growing.

“The US will also reach out to the leaders of the biggest carbon emitting nations and ask them to join a new Global Energy Forum that will lay the foundation for the next generation of climate protocols,” the Democratic draft said.

Noting that China has replaced America as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the document said: “Clean energy development must be a central focus in our relationships with major countries in Europe and Asia.”

“We need a global response to climate change that includes binding and enforceable commitments to reducing emissions, especially for those that pollute the most: the United States, China, India, the European Union, and Russia,” the draft said.