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Economic crisis makes Indo-US ties vital: Menon

March 12, 2009 13:11 IST

Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon on Wednesday said that the current global crisis makes Indo-US economic co-operation all the more significant.

Menon said the current global economic crisis figured prominently during his meetings with officials of the Obama administration and congressional leaders in his trip to Washington.

"We also recognise during these conversations the need for India and the US to work together and with other countries to address the global economic crisis," Menon said.

"We agreed that the upcoming meeting of the G-20 leaders in London in April provides an important opportunity to pursue that goal," he told Indian reporters at a press briefing before leaving for India.

"In fact, the current economic crisis makes the India-US dialogue and economic cooperation even more significant," he observed.

Menon hoped that health permitting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would attend the G-20 summit. "I hope that both (Obama and Singh) would be meeting. We are looking forward to that. It's an important conversation," he said.

Responding to a question, Menon said India feels that 'protectionism' would be the wrong answer to the current economic crisis.

"Protectionism in any form would only means that we are digging a deeper hole for the economies.

"If we look at the experience in the (1930s) when people resorted to protectionist measures, they thought they were protecting their own economy; the net effect actually was to make it much harder for the recovery to take place. Frankly we speak from the historical experience and from the sheer economic situation," he argued.

India's views on protectionism, Menon said is not confined to India alone. "It is a sentiment that I heard, expressed on the Hill and various other US interlocutors."

"There is an economic crisis and we all need to devise methods to deal with it. The financial part of it, we started dealing with, but there is also an economic crisis in the world today, and I think that is where we need to look at dealing with," he said.

The G-20 meeting in London, which is the second such meeting, would be one opportunity, "but we also would be looking at this bilaterally," Menon said.

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