India ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, says Nirupama Rao

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Boston, Sep 21 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said here yesterday India is ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan despite the relationship between the two countries being complicated by the issue of terrorism.

She said India is determined to persevere her dialogue with Pakistan in order to resolve outstanding issues so that the region will be stable, and so that the rationale of economic development in an atmosphere of peace for all of South Asia remains our steadfast goal

"Our relationship with Pakistan has been complicated by the issue of terrorism and the need for Pakistan to take ameliorative action to eradicate terrorism against India. Despite this threat, we understand well the Kautilyan advice that a great power loses stature if it remains bogged down in neighbourhood entanglements," said Nirupama Rao.

She was speaking on Monday at Harward University on 'India's Global Role'.

Talking about Afghanistan, Nirupama Rao said India is supportive of the US efforts to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and to bring stability there.

"We have a direct interest in Afghanistan, not because we see it as a theatre of rivalry with Pakistan but because of the growing fusion of terrorist groups that operate from Afghanistan and Pakistan and their activities in India," said Rao.

"Indeed, developments in Afghanistan over the past few years have demonstrated in ample measure that peace, security and prosperity in today's world is indivisible, and that therefore, the international community in Afghanistan must stay the course," she added.

The Foreign Secretary said Indian assistance to Afghanistan amounting to over US1.3 billion dollars has helped build vital civil infrastructure, develop human resources and capacity in the areas of education, health, agriculture and rural development.

"Our development partnership, which has received wide appreciation of the Afghan people, has been guided primarily by the needs of the Afghan government and people. We stand by this commitment despite the grave threat under which our personnel and people are working in Afghanistan to transform the lives of ordinary Afghan people," she added.

Nirupama Rao further said China is India's largest neighbour and its rise is a reality that faces the entire world today.

"The question asked is whether our relationship with China will be one dominated by increasing competition for influence and for resources as our economic needs grow. I believe the proposition should not be exaggerated in a way that it overshadows all attempts to rationalize the relationship between India and China. The reality is that India and China have worked hard over the last two decades to deepen dialogue and bilateral relations in a number of fields," said Rao.

"Peace and tranquility have prevailed in the India-China border areas, despite the unsettled boundary question. Our trade with China is growing faster than that with any other country. Therefore, we need not see our relations with China as being only competitive. The complicated history of the outstanding boundary question entails that discussions to resolve it cannot be of short duration with easy fixes," she added.

Nirupama Rao said Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has said both India and China will continue to grow simultaneously, and added that the policies between the two countries will have to cater to this emerging reality.

"China's growing ability to project its military strength, its rapid military modernization, and its very visible economic capabilities, introduce a new calculus in the security situation in our region. We are also alert to the continuing and close security relationship between China and Pakistan. These factors serve to further underscore the complexity of the India-China equation today," she claimed.

Nirupama Rao further said India's vision of an enhanced South Asian cooperation for development is challenged by violent extremism and terrorism, which originates in our region and finds sustenance and sanctuary there.

"Terrorists have repeatedly sought to undermine our sovereignty, security and economic progress, aided and abetted by forces beyond our borders. Terrorist attacks on our embassy in Kabul and the horrendous Mumbai attacks of November 2008 once again demonstrated the barbaric face of terrorism. Terror groups implacably opposed to India continue to recruit, train and plot attacks from safe havens across our borders," said Rao.

"There is increased infiltration from across the border. Open democratic societies such as India face particular challenges in combating the threat of terrorism. It is also clear that the threat from terrorism cannot be dealt with through national efforts alone. The global nature of the threat has been recognized widely. Global efforts to tackle the problem also need to be intensified," she added.

The Foreign Secretary said it is time the international community works towards early adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that was tabled at the UN over a decade ago in 1996.

"We must act jointly and with determination to meet the challenges posed by terrorism and to defend the values of pluralism, freedom, peaceful co-existence and the rule of law," she added. (ANI)

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