US official pacifies "outraged" India over Obama-Hu joint statement

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Washington, Nov. 19 (ANI): A senior Obama administration official has sought to assuage angered feelings in India over the presidents of the United States and China using the forum of a joint interaction with the media to suuest that Beijing can play a role in South Asia.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns when asked to comment on President Obama and President Hu Jintao's statement in Beijing that the United States and China would together support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan, said America is interested in pursuing "the best and healthiest possible partnership with China, but not at the expense of another equally important country, India.

Burns who is the No.3 official in the State Department, said on Wednesday that Sino-US ties would not be at India's expense adding the reference in the joint US-China statement with regard to common international concerns was a straight forward expression that Washington looks to Beijing as well as to New Delhi to contribute to the stability in Afghanistan.

"United States is interested in pursuing 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," said the US Under Secretary of State (Political Affairs).

Burns' remarks have been echoed by Robert Blake, the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, who also suggested that the US-China joint statement related more to concerns about the Af-Pak region.

Current and former US officials suggest the mention of India and Pakistan did not mean the US believed China has any locus standi as an interlocutor and Washington was as keen to discuss regional issues with India as much as with China.

The controversial statement is likely to come up during Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington next week, most dailies in India have said.

According to them, President Obama will have to satisfy Dr. Singh during a private briefing on his China visit that his public posturing viz-a-viz China's perceived role in South Asia should not be taken as interference in India or Pakistan's internal affairs.

On his part, Dr. Singh will have to assess the direction of President Obama's roadmap for South Asia. He will have to determine whether Obama intends to approve and support China's role in the region through proxy.

One Indian daily has opined that America is crtically dependent on China's goodwill and that America is a huge debtor nation of China. It further suggests that most US presidents in the latter half of the 20th century and at the start of the 21st century have been hobbled by China during their first terms, and compromised through scandal in their second terms. (ANI)

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