India scoffs at US suggestion

'No Chinese role needed in ties with Pak'

Timothy Roemer: We have historic and close relations with India.

New Delhi’s reaction to US President Barack Obama’s remark that stemmed from a joint Sino-American statement during his China visit comes three days ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to Washington.

A ministry of external affairs spokesman 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.”

As the Indians made it clear that they were not interested in a third country role in resolving disputes between New Delhi and Islamabad, US envoy to India Timothy J Roemer made efforts to ensure the Sino-American joint statement in Beijing would not cast a cloud on Manmohan Singh’s US visit.

New Delhi’s reaction came a day after Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao voiced support for improvement in Indo-Pak ties, expressing their willingness to promote peace and stability in South Asia. The US-China statement, issued after Obama’s talks with Hu, stated that the two countries “support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan,” and are ready to “strengthen communication, dialogue and cooperation on issues related to South Asia and work together to promote peace, stability and development” in the region.

Shocker for Delhi

The joint statement has come as a shocker for New Delhi as it indicated Washington’s readiness to acknowledge Beijing’s role in India-Pakistan relationship. It also does not appear to be in keeping with the long-standing American policy of not accepting a larger role for China in South Asia.

Realising that feathers had been ruffled in South Block, Roemer took special care to indicate that the US was keen to maintain “close relations” with India.

Addressing newspersons at the American embassy here, the US envoy said: “The two countries (US and China) have said that they would work for a more stable and peaceful relationship between the countries in South Asia. I think that is a very positive statement to make.” Roemer added that the US was “trying to make sure there is a prosperous and peaceful rise of China” and, at the same time, was also keen to maintain a “close relation” with India also.

Dialogue with Islamabad

In its reaction to the US-China joint statement, New Delhi reiterated its stand that it could have meaningful dialogue with Islamabad only if the latter took credible and effective actions to dismantle all terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan.

“We believe that a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan can take place only in an environment free from terror or the threat of terror,” the MEA spokesman said.
Though Singh met the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani at Yekaterinburg in Russia and at Sharm-El-Sheikh in Egypt last June and July, respectively, New Delhi is yet to resume the Indo-Pak composite dialogue that it discontinued after the Mumbai terror strikes.

On his part, Roemer said the US has been pressing Pakistan to act against the 26/11 attacks masterminds and perpetrators, including the Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed. Roemer said Washington had conveyed very strong messages to Islamabad.

“We need to see resolve, we need to see actions and we need to see results (in bringing the 26/11 plotters to justice),” Roemer added.

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