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US welcomes emerging India’s role in Asia Pacific

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : The US welcomes India’s greater involvement in East Asia and is committed to working with New Delhi as it increases ties with US allies in Southeast Asia and Japan, a senior US official has said.

“Ultimately, we think that India’s role in the Asian-Pacific region stands to be one of the most important new developments over the course of the next decade,” Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Kurt Campbell told reporters Wednesday.

Offering to help India and China improve their relations, he said: “We also, frankly, support an improvement in dialogue between India and China, and we would seek to take steps to facilitate that as we move forward.”

Back in November 2009, India had expressed deep concern over a joint statement issued after President Barack Obama’s China visit acknowledging Beijing’s role in South Asia. Among other things, it “welcomed all efforts conducive to peace, stability and development in South Asia”.

It also supported “the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan” and expressed readiness “to strengthen communication, dialogue and cooperation on issues related to South Asia and work together to promote peace, stability and development in that region”.

However, after Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington last month, the joint statement made no reference to South Asia apparently in response to New Delhi’s sensitivities.

Downplaying the absence of a reference to Beijing’s role in South Asia in the latest US-China joint statement, Washington said it did not necessarily reflect a change in policy.

Though the joint statement issued here after Obama’s talks with Hu made no direct reference to South Asia it clearly stated, “The presidents further reaffirmed their commitment to the November 2009 US – China Joint Statement.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])