Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China, the US on Wednesday said dialogue between the two neighbours was a “good thing” though the Communist nation was attempting to demonstrate its economic and political influence not only in East Asia but in South East Asian region as well. During an interaction with a gathering of foreign policy experts at Ananta Aspean, a think-tank, American Ambassador Richard Verma said the US has been urging China to do its transactions respecting rule of law and the country has to be “watched carefully”.
“When we have human rights concerns, security concerns, we raise them with China… the extent of the dialogue between India and China… that’s exactly what should happen and that is a good thing,” he said, replying to a question. The envoy, however, said the US “welcomes peaceful rise of China, a China that plays by the international norms”.
Replying to another question, he said the US was not trying to “restraint or contain China” while highlighting its trade ties with Beijing. “US-China relationship and India-China relationship has a lot of similarities,” he said. The Envoy said President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also recognised convergences in the two country’s Asia policies – the US rebalance and India’s Act East policy.
“So the President and Prime Minister issued a Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region (JSV) that set a course for a new direction,” he said. “The JSV articulates our common view that peace, prosperity, and stability in the Indo-Pacific region are secured on a bedrock of connected economies, freedom of
navigation and trade, maritime security, a rules-based order, and an inclusive, effective governing architecture,” he said.
Calling defence and security cooperation between US and India “pillar” of the relationship, he said six path-finding projects have been identified under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and indicated that these issues will be discussed during US Defence Secretary’s upcoming visit here. On intellectual property rights issue, he hoped to find a solution.
On India planning to sign an agreement with Iran for the development of the strategically important Chabahar port, Verma said no country should rush to finalise investment pacts with that country before the international community finalised the nuclear pact with that country. He said US and India share the common concern about Iran’s nuclear weapons programmes. Rushing for deals with Iran was “not fine” and countries should wait to see final outcome of the nuclear talks.
Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari is on a visit to Iran and is likely to finalse the Chabahar port project. On the visa issue, Verma said India continues to get the most H1B visas among all countries which he said is around 65 per cent of the total H1B visas. He said the US had issued one million visas to Indians
last year and there was a 40 per cent increase in issuance of the document in the first four months of the current year.
On release of Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi by Pakistan, he said the US has already called it a mistake and has been seeking punishment to the perpetrators of the terror attack. He said President Obama and Prime Minister Modi after their talks here in January had expressed strong resolve to stand up against terror safe heavens. Calling Indo-US ties “Strategic-Plus partnership”, he said both countries are currently engaged in more than 70 initiatives.
Verma listed launching of the civil nuclear contact group, which he said “moved us” past some of the obstacles that had stalled progress for years as a major achievement of the last few months. He said restarting the trade policy forum to address intellectual property and food security issues and signing of the MoU on Smart Cities and Transportation were other major progress.