Blackwill upbeat on ties between India, US

Himalayan News Service

Kolkata, January 13:

Robert Blackwill, former US ambassador to India has said that India-US relations are set to move ahead with a new vigour as the new Bush cabinet views India as an important strategic partner in the region. Speaking at a session on ‘Four more years: foreign policy priorities and approaches in George W Bush’s second term,’ at the 11th Partnership Summit, being organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), here today, Blackwill said, “I can’t think of a better and more talented team to push Indo-US relations.”

The former ambassador commented that Bush approaches India as a world power. According to him, the US secretary of state-designate Condoleeza Rice has ‘strategic DNA’ and positive views on India that may turn out to be crucial in shaping the course of Indo-US relations. “No one is closer to George Bush than Rice,” said Blackwill, who is also the president of Barbour Griffith & Rogers International, USA. He said both countries shared a lot of common values such as democracy, freedom and the fight against terrorism. Hence both countries should understand these complementarities and work harder to improv ties.

On India getting a permanent membership to the UN Security Council, Blackwill said that it would be difficult for India to get a permanent membership, as there are already more than eight other countries vying for the seat. He said if India was given the status, “Other similar economies will also want the same and the Security Council will end up becoming virtually non-functional”.

Talking about president Bush’s second term, Blackwill believed that firstly, his tenure would be focused on fighting terrorism on the global front and secondly, by spreading freedom, especially in the Middle East. “Either be with US to fight against terrorism or be ready to die,” he commented about global fight against terrorism. President Bush, according to him, believes that freedom is not America’s gift to the world, but a god’s gift to every single person. Therefore, spreading freedom would be his prime objective. He however, said that there were many sceptics of president Bush’s notion of spreading freedom in the Middle-East, but the overwhelming victory in the presidential elections has given him the mandate and the confidence to accomplish his goal.

Blackwill himself is an optimist as far as Iraq was concerned, and said that the year 2005 will be a great year for president Bush. “He will not waiver in respect to Iraq,” he said. He was also optimistic of the situation improving further in Afghanistan but observed that US involvement would be crucial for improving the situation between Israel and Palestine.

China would remain in focus of the new Bush administration. He said that China’s enormous growth economically and militarily had made it an imperative for Bush administration to forge a meaningful relation with this Asian giant.