P.S. Suryanarayana

“Rescinding agreements will only add to chaos”

We have no intention to be any closer to the U.S.

Economic ties key aspect of U.S.-China engagement

SINGAPORE: There will be “no rewinding” of the India-United States civil nuclear energy agreement, if the Bharatiya Janata Party were to come to power following the general elections.

Indicating this, Jaswant Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, has said here that “an era of rescinding [inter-state] agreements,” in the event of changes of governments, would only “add to the chaos that the world already has.”

Answering questions at a meeting with the Foreign Correspondents’ Association on Friday, Mr. Singh said: “We will [if in power again] continue with the [India-U.S.] agreement. It might have deficiencies with the detail, which we will of course endeavour to rectify over time.”

In his capacity as former External Affairs Minister and Finance Minister, he said there was “no … need” for New Delhi “to be disturbed” by the ongoing improvement in the U.S.-China ties. Asked to comment on the significance of U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the White House, Mr. Singh said: “I don’t think one ought to read this as a kind of competitive struggle [between India and China] as to who is close [to the U.S.]. We have no intention to be any closer to the U.S. than the U.S. is comfortable with.”

An “important aspect” of the ongoing U.S.-China engagement was their economic relationship. “The investment in the U.S. and in U.S. bonds by the People’s Republic of China is significant enough today to be effecting and influencing U.S. policy.” In the overall context of China-U.S. ties, “I continue to believe in continuously improving and expanding relations between India and the U.S. as between two sovereign, equal nations.”

Afghanistan situation

Expressing “grave apprehensions” about the current U.S. policies in regard to Afghanistan, which might “not succeed,” he said India’s “concern” should centre on its being only “eight-and-a-half minutes away” from this theatre. The U.S., in contrast, “is 8,500 miles away.” Also, “whereas Pakistan continues to be the epicentre of global terrorism, it is Afghanistan that [now] finds strategic depth in Pakistan and not the other way around,” he said, referring to terrorist activities in that belt.