US cites ‘historic transformation’ in India ties as ‘accomplishment’

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Despite the rise of Asia, the US is the strongest ever in the continent, says US Secretary of State Secretary Condoleezza Rice citing “an historic transformation” in relationship with “rising India” among its “strategic accomplishments”.

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“The rise of Asia is a profound geopolitical trend that is reshaping our world today,” she said Wednesday in an address on “US Policy Toward Asia” at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. “But I believe that the United States, contrary to much of the commentary, is actually in a stronger position in Asia than at any other time.”

All together, since 2001, when President George Bush took over, the US has improved “our relationship with every state in Northeast Asia simultaneously,” said Rice who first served as National Security Adviser before taking up as the chief US diplomat in 2005.

“There are other strategic accomplishments in Asia as well: partnerships with a newly democratic Afghanistan, a democratic Pakistan, and an historic transformation of our relationship with the rising democratic power, India,” she said.

But back in 2001, “it was a bit rocky in Asia,” she said. “Tensions were rising across the Taiwan Strait. US-China relations were strained by the downed EP-3 plane. Violence in Kashmir was pulling India and Pakistan toward conflict.”

Since then, one of Bush Administration’s highest priorities has been to deepen the prospects for peace and security in Northeast Asia, “and I believe we are succeeding in that effort.

The US had reaffirmed and modernized its historic alliances with fellow democracies, Japan and South Korea. It had “worked on and, in fact, recast our relations with China and Russia” and “built constructive partnerships and, though to be sure, they are not resting on common values, they do often rest on common interests.”

“We’ve worked with our friends and our allies to ensure that China’s troubling military buildup does not threaten the region, and to urge China to change irresponsible policies.

“Yet, we have treated China with respect and we’ve urged it to use its rising power as a responsible stakeholder, working with us to address common global problems that destabilize the international system,” Rice said. “We’ ve adopted a similar approach with Russia.”

Asked if US military objectives in Afghanistan were remotely compatible with the commitments that the Pakistani democratic government has made internally, Rice said the US was a strong advocate “for a democratic election in Pakistan, and we’re working with this new civilian government.”

Describing it as “a step forward for Pakistan”, Rice said Washington had made it “very clear to the Pakistani government that the extremists who operate in the Northwest frontier in the Federal Administered Tribal Areas are a threat to them and to us and to everybody on the globe, and that we have a common goal and a common objective in making sure that they cannot operate.”

As a sovereign state, it was Pakistan’s right to handle the situation, but US had made very clear that it was “concerned that any deal with the region would be very clear that terrorists cannot be harboured, terrorists cannot operate with impunity, because ultimately that’s going to come back, first and foremost, to haunt Pakistan.”

“It will haunt the rest of us too, but first and foremost, it’s going to haunt Pakistan,” Rice said. “And so that’s been the nature of our conversation with the Pakistani government.”

“It’s a difficult time for them as they try to settle in,” she said referring to the new Pakistani government. “But we’re prepared to help, and we’re prepared to help with a better life for the population, and we’re prepared to help in helping them to get the means to deal with this area where terrorists who are a threat to them as well as us, are lodged.”