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US says willing to assist India-China dialogue

February 03, 2011

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Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said the United States was committed to working with India as the emerging South Asian nation increases ties with US allies in Southeast Asia and Japan. –Photo by Reuters

WASHINGTON: The United States is willing to help India and China improve their relations and welcomes a greater involvement by New Delhi in East Asia, a senior US official said Wednesday.

Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said the United States was committed to working with India as the emerging South Asian nation increases ties with US allies in Southeast Asia and Japan.

“We also, frankly, support an improvement in dialogue between India and China, and we would seek to take steps to facilitate that as we move forward,” Campbell told a news conference in Washington.

“Ultimately, we think that India’s role in the Asian-Pacific region stands to be one of the most important new developments over the course of the next decade.”

Indian policymakers were privately livid in 2009 when US President Barack Obama visited China and the two nations issued a joint statement saying that Washington and Beijing would cooperate on South Asia.

To the relief of India, there was no such language in a joint statement after Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington last month.

The world’s two most populous nations fought a border war in 1962 and a series of border and political disputes linger, including China’s support for Pakistan and India’s welcoming of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans.

Despite official statements of friendship between the Asian powers, strategic thinkers in India and, to a lesser extent, China often voice worries that the other country is seeking to contain its rise.

The Obama administration focused attention from the start of its term on managing the complex relationship between the United States and China but says it is also committed to a global partnership with democratic India.