NATIONAL

We value relations with both China, U.S.: Natwar

Natwar Singh

Natwar Singh  

Sridhar Krishnaswami

WASHINGTON: The External Affairs Minister, Natwar Singh, has brushed aside as "simplistic" reports that the United States was offering arms and other defence technology to India to counter China.

At a press conference at the end of his official visit to Washington, Mr. Singh stressed that the United States had given no indications that they wanted India to "play any game. And I don't think they will."

"We are not in this game at all," Mr. Singh said. "We have very, very good relations with America. We greatly value them. We want to widen them, deepen them and broaden them. The same is the case with China.

"So this idea that there is going to be any kind of gang-up anywhere — neither has it been mentioned nor will it work... is rather a simplistic view of things." Mr. Singh said he had briefed American leaders about the discussions with the Chinese Prime Minister during his recent visit and about the signing of 12 agreements.

Calling the Chinese leader's visit to India a "resounding success," Mr. Singh spoke of the expanding cooperation with Beijing on a number of fronts, including trade which is expected to touch $30 billion by 2010.

Terming his visit to the U.S. as constructive and positive, Mr. Singh said the interactions had taken the existing relationship a step or two further in all areas. Asked whether he was disappointed that the Bush administration had remained noncommittal on India's claim to permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Singh said the American position was well-known. The Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said Security Council reforms should be in the context of broader U.N. reforms and that discussions were on with a number of partners on the issue. However, she also said, "...international organisations in general will have to take into account India's growing role in the world in order to be updated and to be effective." Responding to Dr. Rice's remarks, Mr. Singh said: "Our credentials are impeccable... Take any aspect of U.N. life; India has played a leading role and by any criteria that you apply, India qualifies for a seat in the expanded council as permanent member."

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