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Relationship with China not at the expense of India: US

November 19, 2009

Amid concerns in India over the reference to the Indo-Pak ties in a US-China joint statement, the Obama Administration said its relationship with China is not at the “expense of” India and that nothing much should be read into the document.

“Of course, the United States is interested in perusing the best and healthiest possible partnership with China; but that does not come at the expense of other increasingly important partnership, particularly our relationship with India,” Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns said in response to a question at an interaction in Washington.

He was asked about concerns in India over the reference to improving Indo-Pak relationship in the US-China joint statement issued at the end of the visit of US President Barack Obama to China.

“The reference in the joint US-China statement with regard to common international concerns, collective concerns about Afghanistan is particular, I think is a very straight forward expression of that we look to China, we look to India, as many other countries in the world, to contribute to stability in Afghanistan,” Burns said, adding that the US welcomes India’s contribution in Afghanistan.

Ruling out any US mediation in the Indo-Pak peace process, he said it is for India and Pakistan to decide on the “scope, content and pace” of the peace process.

Upset over the reference to the Indo-Pak ties in the statement issued after a meeting between Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, India on Wednesday made it clear that it will not brook any third party role in bilateral matters.

“A third country role cannot be envisaged nor is it necessary,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesman said in New Delhi. The Indian reaction came a day after both Obama and Hu voiced support for the improvement in Indo-Pak ties and their readiness to promote peace and stability in the region, listing the situation in South Asia among regional and global challenges.

Seeking to downplay any Indian concern over the Obama-Hu statement, US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer said in New Delhi, “I think that is a very positive statement to make.”

The US and China have only said that they would work for more peace and stability in South Asia, Roemer said.

The External Affairs Ministry said, “The Government of India is committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through a peaceful bilateral dialogue in accordance with the Simla Agreement”.

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