India important for US to limit Chinese influence: Burns

Obama's pivot on East Asia incomplete without including South Asia and India,says former top diplomat.

Written by Agencies | Washington | Published: February 3, 2012 2:04 pm

Noting India’s strategic importance in American efforts to limit the Chinese influence,a former top diplomat today said the United States should include New Delhi in its East-Asia policy.

“Given China’s challenge to America’s 60-year domination of the Asia-Pacific region,Obama was smart to announce a reinvigoration of US alliances with Japan and South Korea and the stationing of US Marines in northern Australia as well as a new trade partnership for the region’s democracies,” wrote Nicholas Burns in The Boston Globe.

Burns,who was Bush Administration point-man for its negotiations with India on the civil-nuclear deal and left the State Department as its Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs,is now professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

“But Obama’s pivot to East Asia will be incomplete if it does not include South Asia and India as well. US officials seem reluctant to link India to this policy. They should do so as a signal to New Delhi of strategic commitment and to Beijing that we are serious about maintaining a US presence in Asia for decades to come,” he wrote.

If coping with a more powerful China will be the great challenge for the United States in the next half century,India may be the great opportunity,Burns said,adding that India is of immense strategic importance to the United States.

“It can help in limiting possible future Chinese expansion as we seek to maintain a preponderance of military power by the democratic countries of Asia – one of the most important American global objectives,” Burns said.

India,he said,has helped the US to support the embattled President Hamid Karzai government in Afghanistan.

India’s booming high-tech economy is a source of growing trade and investment for American companies. It has one of the world’s most admired leaders,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Presidents Clinton,Bush,and Obama have all worked to build this partnership in rare bipartisan fashion,he said.

However,Burns observed,that India can also be a frustrating partner. Its diplomats have dueled with the United States unproductively on global trade talks and on other issues at the United Nations. “It has stalled in implementing the nuclear deal with the United States and disappointed expectations it would open its economy further to foreign investment. It has not supported tough US and European sanctions against Iran and criticised NATO’s successful intervention in Libya last spring,” he said.

“Working with India is not easy,and some in Washington are impatient that it has,in some ways,failed to meet its obvious potential to lead globally. Our problem may not be an India that is too strong but one that is too weak and uncertain,” Burns wrote.

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