Terrorism in India
U.S. Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill is trying to reassure India that the Bush administration considers terrorism against Indian civilians as serious as terrorism against Americans.
Mr. Blackwill also wants India to understand that U.S. cooperation with India’s archrival Pakistan in the war in Afghanistan will have no negative impact on the growing U.S. relationship between Washington and New Delhi.
The new U.S. ambassador explained American interests in the subcontinent in an interview in this week’s edition of the Indian-American newspaper India Abroad. His interview helped set the tone for today’s meeting between President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Washington.
Mr. Blackwill said the war against Osama bin Laden’s Afghan-based al Qaeda terrorist network is not confined to Afghanistan.
“The president has said the war on terrorism has to deal with terrorism against India,” he said.
India yesterday suffered another terrorist attack when 10 persons, including a year-old child, were killed in explosions and shootouts in the disputed Kashmir region, where India accused Pakistan of sponsoring militant separatists.
“Dealing with terrorism in India must be part of the global war against terrorism,” Mr. Blackwill said.
He also expressed understanding for India’s concern about U.S. cooperation with Pakistan.
“We have assured the government of India frequently that we will take no steps with Pakistan that endanger India,” he said.
Mr. Blackwill added that the United States can have good relations with both countries.
“We do not believe this is a zero-sum game,” he said.
The ambassador also reiterated U.S. policy toward Kashmir, saying India and Pakistan must resolve the issue themselves.
“We do not see a role for an intermediary evolution in American policy toward Kashmir. We are not going to get diplomatically involved in Kashmir,” he said.
Mr. Blackwill said Mr. Bush and Mr. Vajpayee, in their first face-to-face meeting, also will discuss India’s nuclear-weapons program. The United States recently lifted sanctions imposed on India and Pakistan after each country conducted nuclear tests in 1998.
“We continue to be interested in the future of India’s nuclear-weapons arsenal just as India is interested in the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal,” he said.
Return to Venezuela
The U.S. ambassador to Venezuela has returned to Caracas after consultations in Washington over President Hugo Chavez’s recent criticism of the war in Afghanistan.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman yesterday told the Associated Press that Ambassador Donna Hrinak arrived in the capital on Wednesday.
The State Department recalled her last week to show its displeasure with Mr. Chavez’s comments. The Venezuelan president had criticized the United States for the accidental deaths of Afghan civilians in the bombing campaign, which he equated to fighting “terror with more terror.”
Mr. Chavez apologized over the weekend and added that his comments were taken out of context. He also reiterated his support for the war on terrorism.
A Cyprus question
The U.S. ambassador to Cyprus carefully avoided offending Turkey this week when a reporter asked about Turkey’s potential annexation of the Turkish-Cypriot part of the divided island.
Rather than comment directly on a statement by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, Ambassador Donald Bandler repeated the U.S. position on the admission to the European Union of the Greek-Cypriot administration, the internationally recognized government of Cyprus.
The EU has said the Nicosia government can join the union, regardless of whether it has reunified with the Turkish-Cypriot side, which is recognized only by Turkey.
The EU membership “can be an incentive for a just and durable settlement in Cyprus,” Mr. Bandler said when asked to respond to Mr. Ecevit’s comment.
Mr. Ecevit this week noted two potential outcomes for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus “total annexation or establishment of an autonomous status.” Turkey, a NATO member and key Muslim ally in the war against terrorism, has offered to send troops to Afghanistan.