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Home > News > Report

'US reaching out to India as well as Pakistan'

March 01, 2006 15:37 IST

Peter Wonacott, The Wall Street Journal's Senior Correspondent for South Asia, remained unperturbed despite a technical glitch which delayed the start of his chat.

Wonacott, who came toNew Delhi last Octoberafter 11 years in China,told rediff.com that 'having written about China's economic transformation, I waseager towitness from the groundanother Asian giant emerging onto the global stage. India is doing just that, as evidencedfrom the hoopla surrounding this week'svisit of President Bush.'

For those of you who missed the chat, here is thetranscript:


Peter Wonacott says,Hello everybody. Good morning from Delhi. Sorry for the technical glitch - now I know what it's like being stuck on the other side of the digital divide.


shashi asked,Hello,what is to be expected from Bush visit specially to pakistan?
Peter Wonacott answers,From what we gather from U.S. officials, President Bush's trip to South Asia is an extremely important one because it comes at a point in history where old relationships are no longer so relevant for this changing world. So the U.S. is reaching out to nations it sees as crucial in this rebalancing. It remains to be seen how succesful this effort, and the visit, will be. But I think both leaders in India and Pakistan want better ties with the U.S. as coming at an extremely important time. It is reaching out to India as well as Pakistan.


Indian asked,The agenda of the US: To keep this region unstable and have a foothold to counter China...Thats it. It is not interested if India & Pakistan keep haing problems because thats what it wants. It supports Pakistan whole heartedly (and we run crying to US), then it extends a hand to us (PAk runs crying o it) ,,What say you guyz?
Peter Wonacott answers,Thanks for your question. I don't think instability in South Asia serves U.S. interests; in fact, the opposite. President Bush is very concerned about terrorism and ineffective governments undermine regional security. For that matter, I don't think the U.S. wants to see instability in China, either. There are two many areas -- business, anti-drugs, combating people smuggling, environmental protrection -- that would suffer in the relationship if China is unstable.


rv asked,how will this tour of bush help the IT sector
Peter Wonacott answers,This is an interesting question. Bush is going to Hyderabad, in part because of its reputation as a high-tech hub. He apparently does want to see the Indian tech miracle up close, but as far as I know, he's not visiting any outsourcing cos. Perhaps still too hot politically. I think the visit should help ease visa restrictions, as Bush has said he wants to do, so tech talent can flow more smoothly between the two countries.


ramananda asked,Peter, welcome to the rediff chat...what do you think is the most significant aspect of the Bush visit? Is it just the nuclear deal, or are there other big ticket deals likely?
Peter Wonacott answers,Well, the Bush administration is in a bit of a corner because a prospective nuclear deal has become a centerpiece of this new relationship. if no deal, what fills the void for the visit and the new strategic partnership? Officials hint at many other goodies, such as an open skies deal, new investments, etc. But nothing rivals the nuclear deal for its significance and long-term potential to reshape ties between India and the U.S. Of course, there very likely could be a deal before he leaves India, as was the case last July when PM Singh visited Washington.


Ramesh asked,I feel it is time for USA, to understand India's is very matured Democracy and any USA President should be obliged to his presidency to vist India in the forst term, visitng India in 2nd term is too late and is insulting,
Peter Wonacott answers,There has been a conspicuous dearth U.S. presidential visits. Bush will be only the fifth U.S. president to visit India since the nation's independence. However, both Presidents Clinton and Bush have made improving ties with India a priority -- President Bush has met with PM Singh a number of times, and Clinton keeps coming back, even for weddings! With warming ties, these visits will only increase in frequency.


srinivas asked,Somehow there is not much hype for this visit when compared to Clinton's visit.What's ur opinion regarding this observation.thanks for your time
Peter Wonacott answers,I wasn't here for President Clinton's visit, so can't compare the degree of hype. But the two presidents are very different people, with very different visit agendas. I gather Clinton was out among the people, which he loved, and wowed the Parliament. President Bush will also try to meet people, but i think in more controlled settings, and he isn't addressing Parliament. So people may respond differently to the two.


sheelakb asked, How do you see the chemistry working between Prez Bush and PM Singh?
Peter Wonacott answers,From many accounts, the two leaders get along very well. PM Singh, I understand, comes across as a man of extreme honesty and humility -- and I hear President Bush responds well to that. It helps of course that the two share a vision of partnership between the two democratic nations.


Indianhawk asked,The US want to 'counterbalance' China by wooing India...your comments?

Peter Wonacott answers,There is probably something to be read into U.S. reaching out to India as a hedge against a rising China. To China's credit, it's not reacting to the Bush visit with any visibile anxiety. Beijing probably realizes that India and China have a separate relationship -- laden with economic potential -- and the two countries will work on improving that, regardless of U.S. strategic goals.


Peter Wonacott says,Thanks everybody. And sorry for the delay getting to your questions. Bye for now.





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