What we can expect from President Clinton's visit to India?

March 18, 2000

As President Clinton leaves for India today (first visit by a sitting US President to South-East Asia in 22 years), many of us are optimistic that this will be the beginning of a new phase in US-India ties. The leadership in the two countries will necessarily seek to put an optimal spin on the events of the visit, diplomacy requires that. Beyond this, however, we must look for signs that specific objectives are brought closer to reality as a result of this trip and the friendship it will foster.

Notably: We must seek acknowledgement that a friendship based on shared systems of government among the two large nations is a good thing, not only for them but for the world at large.

We must seek assurances that from this foundation in common systems of government, a platform for future interaction at unprecedented levels will be erected and maintained.

We must ensure that expectations between the two governments reasonably accommodate each other's internal considerations, and that the public positions taken by the two governments on global matters reflect closer and more continuous interactions, leading to better understanding.

We must highlight the common threats faced by the two nations, from extreme religious fundamentalism and from terrorist organizations around the world, both of which view the United States and India as important targets in their wars of hatred and bigotry.

We must encourage more open markets, leading to better trade between the two nations, and work towards the creation of a bilateral economic treaty that views partnership among the two nations as more significant than that made possible by existing global trade agreements.

We must ensure that the security of the two nations is augmented as well, so that while economic and social interaction between Americans and Indians continues to grow, we remain vigilant that those who would threaten this new relationship are made aware of the military might behind the alliance.

We must work together, Americans and Indians alike, to promote in the global community the view that a solidarity of open and free societies is in the national interest of every one of them, and that the togetherness they demonstrate in the coming years will determine how successful we are in preserving both increasing prosperity and responsible freedom.

- Ram Narayanan in US

The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.

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