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Bush visit important for strategic, economic reasons: Report
February 28, 2006 21:39 IST
Observing that President George W Bush's visit to India is "far more significant" for strategic and economic reasons than the trip six years ago of then American leader Bill Clinton, a leading US daily Tuesday said the ties between the two countries have never been so important in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
However, The New York Times in its lead editorial also said it is a "pity" that Bush's trip beginning Wednesday should focus so much on the civilian nuclear arrangement between the two countries.
"When president Bill Clinton went to India six years ago, he danced to folk music with women in a rural Rajasthani village, ate bowls of black lentil stew at a posh restaurant in New Delhi, and spotted a rare Bengal tiger at a wildlife reserve south of Jaipur. He was cheered wildly in India's Parliament," the paper said.
Bush's visit to the world's second most populous nation "will likely be less entertaining visually; Bush, after all, isn't even planning to visit the Taj Mahal, let alone address India's legislature, which both nations have decided is too raucous to risk an appearance by this president. But Bush's visit is a far more significant presidential trip, for both strategic and economic reasons," The Times said.
The paper makes the case that relations between the two countries have never been so important in the aftermath of 9/11 as it pertains to the war on terror and also such issues.
"Against that backdrop, Bush would be well employed simply building bridges between the world's two largest democracies and focusing on economic issues of common concern," it said.
"The president is planning the obligatory trip to a centre of high technology, although White House strategists, mindful of election-year fears in the United States about call centres and outsourcing, chose the more diversified city of Hyderabad instead of the call-center capital, Bangalore.
"Hyderabad has a big Muslim population, so it is also a chance for Bush to try to counter some of the damage done lately to relations between Muslims and the West," the paper said, apparently referring to the controversy over publication of Prophet Mohammed's cartoons in European newspapers.
"But there's not enough substance to these parts of Bush's schedule to disguise the fact that this trip is built around a bad nuclear deal," The Times said, making the point that Bush administration's policy to "contain China" by "building up" India went too far and that the basic bargain of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of rewarding countries that renounced sensitive nuclear technology has been "jeopardised" by making an exception to India.
"That's the worst possible message to send to other countries -- Iran comes to mind -- that America and its nuclear allies in Europe are trying to keep off the nuclear weapons bandwagon. Already, Pakistani officials are requesting the same deal for their country, although it is a request that is unlikely to be granted.
"Congress would have to approve this nuclear deal, and it should kill it. If lawmakers approved the arrangement with India, other countries that signed on to the non-proliferation treaty would be tempted to reconsider the cost-benefit bargain that kept them from developing nuclear weapons," The Times concluded.