India to tell US no role for China in South Asia

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Geneva, Nov.22 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, is likely to use his four-day visit to Washington commencing from today, to firmly and emphatically reiterate and re-emphasise to the American leadership, that New Delhi does not see a role for China in South Asia, nor will it tolerate attempted third party guardianship initiatives in the region by Beijing.

Placing its strong objection to the reference made to South Asia in the joint statement issued by Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao in Beijing this week, the Indian Government has ensured that both the United States and China retreat from their proposed mediating efforts on ties between India and Pakistan.

According to sources, China has indicated its appreciation and respect for the Indian position for only having bilateral and direct talks with Pakistan and brooking no interference from outside.

"On China, we have a bilateral relationship with countries and we are not interested in a guardianship role with any, and nor will we accept a guardianship role by any country," said a source.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has said: "The Chinese have said that they respect our position and support direct talks between India and Pakistan."

The Chinese establishment seems to have been told that India will not accept any "guardianship role" by any country.

During President Barack Obama's November 15-18 visit to China, a joint statement on regional and global challenges said: "The two sides welcomed all efforts conducive to peace, stability and development in South Asia. They support the efforts of Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight terrorism, maintain domestic stability and achieve sustainable economic and social development, and support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan. The two sides are ready to strengthen communication, dialogue and cooperation on issues related to South Asia and work together to promote peace, stability and development in that region."

India responded aggressively to the purported US-China intent when it made clear that a third party role was not necessary.

Sticking to its stand that no "meaningful dialogue" can take place unless there was a terror-free environment, an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson 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."

"A third country role cannot be envisaged nor is it necessary. We also believe that a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan can take place only in an environment free from terror or the threat of terror."

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, William Burns, said in Washington that while his country is interested in building better relations with China, it would be at the cost of India.

When asked about President Obama not mentioning India in a major speech about Asia"s role in world affairs, Burns said, "The clearest indication of this was the fact that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh"s visit to Washington next week would be the first hosted by the Obama administration."

"On matters of common international concern, the US looked to China and many other countries," said Burns, who is among the top US officials giving finishing touches to a strategic dialogue framework with India to take their relationship to the next level during the visit.

"We look forward to the completion of the remaining steps on both sides," he said, pointing out that US companies stand to benefit a great deal with the implementation of the nuclear deal.

US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer told a press conference this week that it was not Washington's intention to suggest that China could play a role in South Asia.

For the moment, it seems the latest US-China joint statement has proved to be as dead as the India-Pakistan joint statement issued after the Prime Ministers of the two countries - Manmohan Singh and Yusuf Raza Gilani met in the Egyptian resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh in July this year, a non-starter at least with regard to South Asia which will not tolerate Chinese hegemony. (ANI)

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