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India, U.S. `on the same side' against terror: Talbott

By Our Special Correspondent

— Photo: R. Ragu

The former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for South Asia and president of the Brookings Institution, Washington D.C., Strobe Talbott, delivering a talk organised by the Observer Research Foundation in Chennai on Friday.

CHENNAI, FEB. 4. The war on terrorism and the campaign on behalf of freedom, liberty and democracy all over the world could "go a long way" to define "what might be a common agenda between the U.S. and India," according to the former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for South Asia, Strobe Talbott.

"There is no question whatsoever that the U.S. and India are on the same side with regard to both the war on terror and a campaign on behalf of freedom," said Mr. Talbott, now president of a Washington D.C - based think tank, the Brookings Institution.

He noted that the U.S. and India were on the "same side" now largely because of "a fundamental change in outlook" of both the countries. The change in the nature of the relationship was because of the end of the Cold War and the extra step forward taken by leaders of both countries.

Mr. Talbott was speaking on U.S.-India relations in the age of globalisation, at the Stella Maris College. The talk was organised by the Observer Research Foundation.

Mr. Talbott said that allies needed a reason to stay together and work together. The new templates that guide United States foreign policy outlined those reasons, he said. "To be an ally there needs to be some agreement between us as to what we are allied for, what we favoured together and what we are allied against," he said. The stress placed by the U.S. President, George W. Bush, on the struggle for freedom, liberty and democracy all over the world provided the point of agreement for the two countries to work together.

But even the joint efforts such as the war on terror or restoring liberty and democracy all over the world might not satisfactorily answer the question as to what the conceptual framework was for the U.S. foreign policy for the decade ahead.

Common cause

"If we were to make the common cause on terrorism, an automatic bond with every State that claims to be waging war on terrorism, that would put us in bed with rather strange bed fellows. For example, then it is a problem for US-Russian relations," he said, and added that the US did not appreciate the extreme brutal measures used by Russia on the Chechens.

Also, using the war on terror as an overall umbrella for American foreign policy has also put the United States "much too close" with regimes in Pakistan. Using the campaign for freedom is also a mixed bag.

"It will be too simplistic a policy to say that we are for every country that is a fully developed democracy and against any country that is not so qualified."

The problems thrown up meant that an additional context was needed to guide the war on terror and usher in democratic functioning all over the world.

"I would suggest that the answer lay in the word globalisation itself."

Globalisation should be seen as a fact of life. "It is not something that is good or bad. It simply exists. And the challenge for us is to find some way to manage globalisation... so as to advance values and goals that we all believe in," he said.

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