NEW DELHI: The US on Wednesday once again came out in strong support of India’s NSG membership bid.
“US and India would review the Seoul plenary and rework diplomatic approaches for the next plenary,” US undersecretary for political affairs Thomas Shannon told a group of young Indian diplomats. “We regret that in Seoul we were unable to open the space necessary to allow India’s entry into the NSG at the moment, but we are not giving up,” he said.
“We understand that in a consensus-based organization (and) one country can break consensus, but in order to do so it must feel comfortable that it will not be isolated. Therefore, what we need to do going forward is both India and US sit down and take a closer look at what happened in Seoul … take a close look at our diplomatic approaches, which were significant, and see what more we can do to see that the next time around we will be successful,” he said.
Shannon said a lot of American diplomatic effort was to understand and deal with China as a growing power.
He said while China was an important economic partner, it had the “potential to become an adversary if we don’t manage the relationship well.” One of the ways to do that, he said, was to work with other nations in the region “who want China to behave in a responsible fashion”.
Describing China’s actions in the South China Sea as “madness”, Shannon said, “… As China works to secure the South China Sea as an area of strategic importance for it, it does so not with the intention of going into the blue Pacific, but into the Indian Ocean.”
He said, “America sees India as the natural strategic power of the Indian Ocean, so it is certainly our intention to work with India to have a strong and comprehensive presence.”
Interpreting China’s actions in the South China Sea, Shannon said, “What China is doing in the South China Sea is madness. It is clever at one level to take reefs and submerged geological formations, create islands out of them and then building air strips and landing aircrafts on them all to assert maritime domain. But as far as our navy is concerned, all they are doing is building targets. Strategically and politically, its impact is to intimidate.”
Thinking that India could be in the NSG by year-end as India has said a positive NSG result would help it to ratify the Paris climate accord, Shannon said, “This is our hope. But obviously we are going to have to sit down and talk to each other and determine what our next steps will be. We are fully confident that, as Prime Minister Modi said to President Obama, India will be prepared to accede to the Paris agreement as early as possible.”
In his remarks earlier, he said Modi and Obama had developed a strong bond and “a habit of cooperation”.