New Delhi, January 29, 2009 — Diplomats urge U.S. President to deepen U.S.-India relationship, accelerate South Asian economies
As Barack Obama takes the reigns as the 44th President of the United States, international relations experts strongly recommend to the new U.S. administration that they continue to improve ties with India. America’s Role in Asia, a new volume of urgent foreign policy recommendations, presented by distinguished Asian and American ambassadors this morning at the Hotel Taj Mahal in New Delhi, states that, while the U.S. has often talked about making India a full partner in managing the global order, it must take immediate steps, such as making India a full member of the G-8 group of advanced nations.
Convened and supported by The Asia Foundation, America’s Role in Asia provides recommendations derived from a year of high-level, closed-door discussions across Asia and in the U.S. that addressed critical issues in U.S.-Asia relations. Today’s New Delhi forum turns a spotlight on recommendations in the report for U.S.-India relations and U.S. policy in South Asia. Attendees include leading Indian and American diplomats, officials, CEOs, and scholars; and speakers include Ambassador Karl F. Inderfurth, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs; Dr. C. Raja Mohan, professor at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang, Technological University in Singapore, and former member of India’s National Security Advisory Board; and Ambassador Rajendra Abhyankar, former Indian Ambassador to the EU, Belgium and Luxemburg, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Syria, and Cyprus, and Asia Foundation Director of India Programs.
“The last two American presidents recognized that fundamental change was underway with India as an emerging global power and acted accordingly,” said Ambassador Inderfurth, author of the America’s Role in Asia chapter on U.S.-India relations. “A strong foundation for a vibrant U.S.-India relationship has been established, upon which the next U.S. administration can build.”
“India is an important factor,” added Dr. Mohan, the South Asia Regional Chair of America’s Role in Asia. “South Asia will become increasingly relevant to a number of new challenges confronting U.S. foreign policy, such as Asia’s regional balance of power, maritime security, and global warming.”
Among the Asian task force recommendations for U.S. policy to South Asia:
- The Subcontinent needs a strong economic partnership with the U.S. Washington can accelerate regional economic integration by offering preferential tariffs to goods produced across borders in South Asia, and encourage investments by its companies on the Subcontinent.
- The United States must undertake a significant effort to win political support among the Pushtun tribes, separate them from al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and make them stakeholders in the war against terror. The United States also needs to recognize how deeply the Pushtun question divides Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Among the American task force recommendations for U.S.-India relations and overall policy to South Asia:
- U.S. and Indian officials have set a goal of doubling bilateral trade over the next three years. It is time to accelerate the growth in these ties.
- Another arena for greater strategic cooperation is in counter-terrorism. India has been a target of terrorist attacks longer than the United States. Expanding counter-terrorism cooperation requires increased information sharing and building tighter liaison bonds with India’s intelligence and security services.
The New Delhi discussion was convened with the Confederation of Indian Industry, a partner to The Asia Foundation. Published on a quadrennial cycle by The Asia Foundation, the full report is available to download at www.asiafoundation.org, as are overviews of the reports and executive summaries.
About The Asia Foundation
The Asia Foundation formally returned to India in June 2008, opening a liaison office in New Delhi. Since 1968, the Foundation has maintained a non-resident program of cooperation, focusing on international relations, governance, economic reform, women’s empowerment, and education.