WASHINGTON: US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has said that India can help the United States in keeping an eye on Pakistan, as Washington cannot tolerate any government that shelters terrorists. In her address to the US-India Friendship Council in Washington on Tuesday, Ambassador Haley, an American politician of Indian origin, also advised India “not to touch” the present veto arrangement at the UN Security Council if it wanted to join the world body as a permanent member.
Explaining Washington’s growing interest in New Delhi, the US envoy said the United States was “really going to need” India’s help in stabilising Afghanistan and was looking forward to greater support from this major South Asian power in resolving the Afghan conflict. “So having them help not only with infrastructure and the aid that they can give towards rebuilding Afghanistan, (they can) also help us to keep an eye on Pakistan,” Ms Haley said.
“That is going to be really important in making sure that we hold them accountable, because we are at a point where we kind of laid the groundwork that we need to see better partnership from Pakistan… India is going to help us with that,” she added.
The US envoy to the United Nations said that America’s overriding interest in Afghanistan and throughout South Asia was to eliminate terrorist safe havens and to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. “We will use all the elements of our national power: economic, diplomatic and military to pursue these goals,” she said.
Ms Haley recalled that US President Donald Trump had taken a “tougher approach” to Pakistan for allegedly “harbouring terrorists” and wanted Islamabad to eliminate the so-called terrorist safe havens from its soil.
“Pakistan has been a partner to the US at times. We value and respect that. But we cannot tolerate this government or any other government giving safe haven to terrorists who target Americans,” she said.
“This new approach will require understanding and restraint from both Pakistan and India,” said the US diplomat while explaining the US position that the United States wanted to maintain separate relations with both nations.
The United States, she said, recognised the important contributions India had made to the stability of Afghanistan and wanted New Delhi to continue doing so. Ms Haley said that while President Trump had decided to make sure that Iran never got a nuclear weapon, he did not oppose the Indian nuclear programme.
“India is a nuclear power and nobody gives it a second thought. Why? Because India is a democracy that threatens no one,” she said.
Ms Haley said two of the five permanent members, Russia and China, opposed any changes in the current structure of the Security Council and could also keep India out if it tried to acquire veto powers.
The US envoy to the United Nations said the proposed reform of the UN Security Council was “much more about veto” — the power that allows Russia, China, Britain, US and France to veto a resolution — than about its expansion.
“None of them (five permanent members) want to give that up. So, the key to getting India on the Security Council would have to be not to touch the veto,” Ms Haley said.
Warning for China
Meanwhile, the United States vowed on Wednesday to work with India in preference to China over the next century to promote a “free and open” Asia-Pacific region led by prosperous democracies. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered his unexpectedly sharp message to Beijing on the same day President Xi Jinping opened the Communist Party congress.
His upbeat speech was designed to set the stage for a visit next week to China’s main Asian rival India, and to lay out a vision for a 100-year “strategic partnership” between Washington and New Delhi.
But President Donald Trump’s chief diplomat also took the opportunity to compare the United States and India — the world’s “two greatest democracies” — with China, which he said was undermining the “rules-based international order.”
Coming on the day, Xi opened a party congress designed to further secure his long-term control of what is already one of the most powerful Chinese presidencies in history, Tillerson’s address will be seen as provocative.
After the speech, reporters asked a senior State Department official whether it had been intended as a warning or a rebuke to China.