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India Obama Backs India for Seat on Security Council

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Archived_Member16, Nov 8, 2010.

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    November 8, 2010

    Obama Backs India for Seat on Security Council

    By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG - NEW YORK TIMES

    NEW DELHI President Obama announced here on Monday that the United States would back India’s bid for a permanent seat on an expanded United Nations Security Council, a major policy shift that could aggravate China, which opposes such a move.

    Mr. Obama made the announcement — a priority for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — during a late afternoon speech to Parliament.
    “The just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate,” the president said. “That is why I can say today — in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.”

    Members of Parliament reacted with sustained applause. But neither the president nor his top advisers offered a timetable for how long it would take to reform the council, or specifics about what steps the United States would take to do so. Last month, India won a two-year nonpermanent seat on the council, which has five permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

    But expanding the body will be a complicated endeavor that will require the cooperation of other countries and could easily take years. “This is bound to be a very difficult process and it’s bound to take a significant amount of time,” William J. Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said here.

    Mr. Obama is on a 10-day trip to Asia that will take him to four countries, all democracies; it is no accident that China is not on the list.

    The president’s announcement on Monday underscored how the United States is trying to promote India as a global power at a moment when both countries are concerned about the increasing influence and assertiveness of China.

    “In Asia and around the world, India is not simply emerging,” Mr. Obama said in his speech, echoing a line he used earlier in the day at a joint news conference with Mr. Singh. “India has emerged.”

    Many Indian officials had worried that the Obama administration was less interested in India than China, and that the bilateral relationship was lacking a “big idea,” like the landmark civilian nuclear agreement between the two countries under former President George W. Bush.

    American foreign policy experts have expressed much the same concern. In a recent report, the Center for a New American Security, a research institution in Washington, warned that “the rapid expansion of ties has stalled,” and encouraged the Obama administration to address the problem by supporting India’s effort to win a security council seat.

    India’s foreign policy establishment had been divided on the issue, with some arguing that the United Nations is increasingly outdated compared to groups like the Group of 20, where India is a major player. Mr. Obama and Mr. Singh will meet again at the G-20 meeting in Seoul, South Korea, later this week.

    “A country of our size, with our civilizational heritage, I don’t think we should be canvassing or banging the door to get in,” Ronen Sen, who recently retired as India’s ambassador to the United States, said before Mr. Obama spoke. “Why should we be bothered? Maybe it is a colonial hangover. We want to get into every club.”

    Lalit Mansingh, a retired Indian diplomat, said Mr. Obama’s announcement was as critical to the United Nations as to India because Indian officials were beginning to doubt the relevance of the global body and were placing more importance on the G-20, where India plays a significant role.

    “It is a key moment both for India and the future of the United Nations,” Mr. Mansingh, who also is a former ambassador to the United States, said as Mr. Obama prepared to address Parliament. “If you defer this much further, I don’t think people will be excited about the U.N. It is not a key player in Iraq. It is not a key player in Afghanistan. It is beginning to lose its relevance and might.”

    Earlier on Monday, Mr. Obama strongly endorsed the Federal Reserve Board’s decision last week to pump $600 billion into the American economy and issued a veiled rebuke to China for maintaining a huge trade surplus.

    “We can’t continue to sustain a situation in which some countries are maintaining massive surpluses, others massive deficits and there never is the kind of adjustment with respect to currency that would lead to a more balanced growth pattern,” Mr. Obama said.

    Looking ahead to the Group of 20 meeting, Mr. Obama made the comments — his first on the Fed’s move — at a joint news conference here with Prime Minister Singh. Mr. Singh, for his part, strongly defended the practice of outsourcing, which makes many Americans uneasy and has come up repeatedly during the president’s visit here.

    “India is not in the business of stealing jobs from the United States of America,” the prime minister declared.

    The two leaders’ comments came on the third day of Mr. Obama’s 10-day swing through Asia — a journey the White House is characterizing as an economic mission. Asked about the Fed’s decision, Mr. Obama noted that the Federal Reserve is an independent entity, and said he did not comment on its actions. But then he proceeded, in effect, to do so.

    “The worst thing that could happen to the world economy — not just ours, but the entire world’s economy — is if we end up being stuck with no growth or very limited growth,” the president said. “I think that’s the Fed’s concern, and that’s my concern, as well.”

    With unemployment in the United States stuck at 9.6 percent, some economists are arguing that the economy needs an additional boost, but the prospects for another stimulus package are dim on Capitol Hill. The Fed announced recently that it would spend $600 billion buying up Treasury bonds — a move that would keep interest rates low and, officials hope, spur consumer spending.

    But it might also lower the value of the dollar, leading to criticism that the United States government — which has long complained about China’s currency devaluation — is acting hypocritically. Mr. Obama made his remarks in response to a question about comments by the finance minister of another surplus nation, Germany, who in a recent interview with Der Spiegel called the Fed’s decision “undermining the credibility of U.S. financial policy.”

    The minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, went on, “It doesn’t add up when the Americans accuse the Chinese of currency manipulation and then, with the help of their central bank’s printing presses, artificially lower the value of the dollar.”

    Coming off a bruising midterm election that he has said was a referendum on the economy, Mr. Obama has sought to use his time in India to spotlight his efforts to create American jobs, by announcing business deals between American and Indian companies and liberalizing restrictions on the ability of American companies to export sensitive technologies to India.

    But India is a delicate place for Mr. Obama to talk about jobs, given American concerns about outsourcing — and the president’s own rhetoric as a candidate. On Monday, he faced questions from the Indian press about his comments — and argued that he has not complained about outsourcing, at least not here.

    “I don’t think you’ve heard me make outsourcing a bogeyman during the course of my visit,” the president said, adding that the practice has “enormous win-win potential” for creating jobs in both nations.

    Pakistan — a country that arouses deep suspicion in India — was also on the table when the president and prime minister met before the news conference.

    Mr. Obama has been under some pressure here to toughen his language on Pakistan and has resisted doing so while here; instead, he is trying to nudge India and Pakistan toward working together. So while Mr. Singh called Pakistan a “terror machine” on Monday, Mr. Obama reiterated his careful rhetoric.

    “Both Pakistan and India have an interest in reducing tensions between the two countries,” the president said. While the United States “cannot impose a solution to these problems,” he said he had told the prime minister that his government was “happy to play any role that the parties think is appropriate in reducing these tensions.”

    Jim Yardley and Lydia Polgreen contributed reporting.

    source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/09/world/asia/09prexy.html?_r=1&ref=global-home
     
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