- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2003

Final words to India

Robert D. Blackwill, the retiring American ambassador to India, praised U.S.-Indian cooperation in the war on terrorism in his final policy speech before returning to Harvard University to resume his teaching career.

“The United States and India must have zero tolerance for terrorism. We will win the war on terrorism, and that war will not see victory until terrorism against India is ended once and for all,” he said.

India repeatedly has blamed Muslim guerrillas from Pakistan for terrorist attacks in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Mr. Blackwill, addressing a luncheon of the Confederation of Indian Industry earlier this month, recounted the transformation in U.S.-Indian relations under President Bush but expressed disappointment at India’s refusal to send troops to help the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

He also called on India to reform its heavily regulated economic sector, calling it the “missing piece in our transforming bilateral relationship.”

Mr. Blackwill, who served on Mr. Bush’s foreign policy transition team, said the president is determined to improve relations with the world’s most populous democracy.

“His big idea is that by working together more intensely than ever before, the United States and India, two vibrant democracies, can transform the very essence of our bilateral bonds and thereby make the world freer, more peaceful and more prosperous,” Mr. Blackwill said.

“In short, President Bush has a global approach to U.S.-Indian relations, consistent with the rise of India as a world power.”

Mr. Blackwill recalled that Washington once considered India a “nuclear renegade” for its proliferation program and its nuclear weapons tests, which led to U.S. sanctions in 1998. Mr. Bush lifted those sanctions.

Before the Bush administration, U.S.-Indian diplomacy was like a “dialogue of the deaf,” Mr. Blackwill said.

“India was one of the problems, a nuclear renegade whose policies threatened the entire nonproliferation regime and which must be brought to its senses so that its nuclear weapons program could be rolled back to zero,” he said, referring to U.S. policy before Mr. Bush took office in 2001.

“Two years later, U.S.-Indian relations have achieved remarkable accomplishments based … on a radically different [American] approach to policy interaction with India,” he added.

“No longer does Washington regard India as an acute and abiding international proliferation risk that must be carefully managed and constantly lectured. …

“No longer does the United States fixate on India’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. No more constant American nagging nanny on these subjects. …”

Mr. Blackwill said more than 100 U.S. policy-makers have visited India in the past two years. The two countries hold frequent joint military exercises, and cooperate in Afghanistan and on other “crucial issues” related to South Asia, he said.

Freedom for faith

The Bush administration must use diplomatic pressure to promote religious freedom in China, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said at a congressional hearing.

“As China continues its political and economic transformation, the United States must consistently remind the Chinese government that the protection of human rights, including religious freedom, is critical to a strong and vibrant society and economy,” she said at the hearing last week before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

“The rights of the Chinese people must be protected, and the United States should be prepared to assist in this regard.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who meets tomorrow with President Bush at the White House.

• Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Dan Geoana, who meets Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. He is accompanied by National Security Adviser Ion Talbas.

• Goran Svilanovic, foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro, and Zoran Zivkovic, prime minister of the Republic of Serbia. Mr. Zivkovic holds an 11 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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