U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has advised India to take a more assertive role in Asia.
On the last day of a three-day trip to the subcontinent, Clinton made her comments in Chennai (formerly Madras), the tech hub in the southern part of the country.
“India’s leadership has the potential to positively shape the future of the Asia-Pacific… and we encourage you not just to look east, but continue to engage and act east as well,” she said.
“This is not a time when any of us can afford to look inward at the expense of looking outward. This is a time to seize the emerging opportunities of the 21st century. This is a time to lead.”
She also suggested that New Delhi should pursue deeper trading relations with neighbors Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to help bring peace and prosperity.
Analysts suggest that the US would like a stronger India to offset a rising China as a superpower in Asia.
She also repeated US President Barack Obama’s support for giving India a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.
Clinton also pointed out some of the common interests shared by US and India, the world’s two largest democracies.
The more our countries trade and invest with each other and with other partners, the more central the Asia-Pacific region becomes to global commerce and prosperity, and the more interest we both have in maintaining stability and security. As the stakes grow higher, we should use our shared commitments to make sure that we have maritime security and freedom of navigation,” she said.
The Secretary also assured India that security in Afghanistan will not be compromise following the departure of US troops.
“I want to be very clear. The United States is committed to Afghanistan and to the region. We will be there, she said. Yes, we are beginning to withdraw combat troops and transfer responsibility for security to the Afghan people, a process that will be completed in 2014. But drawing down our troops is not the same as leaving or disengaging.”
However, Clinton also chided the Indian government for not doing more to stamp out human rights abuses in the region.
“As India takes on a larger role throughout the Asia-Pacific, it is also taking on new responsibilities including the duty to speak out against violations of universal human rights,” she said.
She specifically referred to Myanmar (Burma), which is one of the most repressive nations on earth.
We recognize that India has important strategic interests in maintaining a peaceful border and strong economic ties with Burma. But the Burmese government’s treatment of its own people continues to be deplorable, Clinton added. So it was a signal moment when [India’s] Foreign Secretary [Nirupama] Rao met with [Burmese activist] Aung San Suu Kyi last month. And I hope New Delhi will continue to encourage the Burmese government to engage in dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and also release other political prisoners.”