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The President's Trip to South Asia
U.S. RELATIONS WITH INDIA
In 1792, President George Washington appointed Benjamin Joy as the American Consul in Calcutta, the capital of British India. Despite intellectual exchanges through Emerson, Transcendentalism, and Swami Vivekananda, it was the Indian independence movement and Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolence that especially captured the attention and imagination of the American people.
The Indo-U.S. relationship for much of the 50 years after Indian independence in 1947 was colored by the Cold War, as India chose a statist, socialist path and signed a long-term Friendship Treaty with the Soviet Union.
President Clinton’s current visit is the first post-Cold War visit to India by an American President. Three other American Presidents have visited India: Dwight Eisenhower in December 1959, Richard Nixon in August 1969, and Jimmy Carter in January 1978.
Indian political and economic reforms of the last decade have greatly facilitated the new engagement we now seek.
However, the May 1998 Indian nuclear tests interrupted progress in our bilateral relationship; our dialogue on security policy is attempting to narrow the differences between us on these issues and help the relationship reach its full potential.
President Clinton’s visit to India will give added impetus to the U.S. effort to engage India in developing a qualitatively new and closer relationship across a broad range of global, regional, and bilateral issues. It will underscore the reality that, although significant areas of disagreement remain –- including on nonproliferation -- the dialogue between these two great nations, whose overall democratic values and interests have so much in common, must move forward.
The U.S. and India seek a close engagement based on these broadly shared values and interests. Our relations with India will not depend upon our relations with any other country. Both the U.S. and India will be deeply involved in global issues in the 21st century, and will have vital contributions to make in the search for international peace and prosperity.
The U.S. values India’s democratic achievements. The U.S. sees India’s commitment to open, pluralistic societies as a powerful bond between our countries. The U.S. intends to coordinate its views with India’s wherever possible, and to learn more about the aspirations of the Indian people.
GOALS FOR THE VISIT
President Clinton is visiting India to build a closer working relationship, befitting our two democracies. We see India as a key player in global affairs in the 21st century, and as a vital contributor to overall Asian regional peace and stability.
This visit is part of an on-going U.S. effort to lay the groundwork to build a qualitatively new and closer relationship between our two countries. Specifically, we want to engage India
to forge better overall ties with an emerging power that is the world’s largest democracy;
to give concrete expression to our shared democratic values, and our interest in strengthening evolving democracies;
to urge Indian progress toward global nonproliferation and security norms;
to maximize our partnership in trade, investment, and information technology exchanges with one of the world’s largest economies –- and one of the world’s largest middle classes;
to broaden and deepen our relations with the world-class Indian players in the vital area of information technology;
to enhance our joint efforts on urgent global issues, including terrorism and narcotics;
to team up to protect the global environment, with clean energy and other initiatives where Indian leadership is essential;
to join hands in the global campaign against polio, HIV/AIDS, and other public health problems.
As with all countries, India and the U.S. have areas where they do not see eye to eye. We want to narrow differences where we can and address areas of disagreement in a mature and constructive manner. As President Clinton has said, India is the world’s biggest democracy, and we have an enormous common interest in shaping the future together.
NONPROLIFERATION. Over the past two years, India and the U.S. have had an intensive, senior-level dialogue on nonproliferation and security issues. We have made some progress toward greater understanding and cooperation on these issues, but much work remains to be done. The U.S. and India share an ultimate concern about how to make the world safer in a nuclear age, and promoting further progress on nonproliferation will be a key issue on the President’s agenda in India.
REGIONAL STABILITY. As a friend of both India and Pakistan, we are concerned and in touch with both states regularly about the tensions that exist between these two neighbors. Our concerns have been heightened by the fact that both possess nuclear weapons and by the very intense fighting last summer along the line of control in Kashmir. We continue to encourage both countries to look for ways to establish dialogue with each other and will continue to do so. The President has stated clearly that he wants to help promote that dialogue, but we do not see ourselves as mediators on this issue.