New Delhi, May 13: Back from his US visit, national security adviser Brajesh Mishra today said Delhi’s relation with Washington was that of partnership, not a master-client one.
Mishra, also the Prime Minister’s principal secretary, was speaking after launching the book, Crossing the Rubicon — The Shaping of India’s New Foreign Policy, by strategic affairs writer C. Raja Mohan at the Habitat Centre here this evening.
India can never become a “client-state” of the US because of the country’s pride and size, he said.
Mishra returned to the country yesterday after a successful visit of the US, where he held wide-ranging discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues with American national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and other senior members of the US administration.
President George W. Bush had taken time out from his busy schedule to meet Mishra, signalling the growing strength of the ties between the two large democracies.
Mishra’s speech in the US, proposing an axis between India, the US and Israel as the three shared some common values, had created a stir in certain sections in India.
The national security adviser, however, did not appear to be apologetic about his proposal. “The US, with its global interests, has much more to ask from us,” he said.
Mishra clarified that shared values and partnerships, however, did not guarantee an absence of disagreements.
Citing the example of Iraq, he said India had simply stuck to its position that it would not support any action outside the UN framework. “But this position was well understood by the US.”
The “political will” both in the US and India to forge ahead with their relationship notwithstanding, there were also “many hurdles ahead”.
Mishra was referring to the technology sanctions imposed by the US affecting India’s defence and economy.
“So we have to keep on engaging, hoping it will one day become a full partnership,” he said. “We have to improve ourselves (read become self-reliant). We can’t be waiting for others to improve us.”
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government’s approach to foreign policy was based on “continuity with change”, he said.
The country’s nuclear tests of May 1998 had “awakened the world” to India. “It was a difficult decision...but this government decided that there was no other way. This was something which had to be done.”
The reasons, he said, were numerous, including the nuclear environment around the country and the fast-changing world situation. Mishra said India had managed to open out to the world in the five years since the nuclear tests.
Former US President Bill Clinton’s India visit in March 2000 was the “turning point” in Indo-US relations, he said.
The change in the Washington administration, bringing the Bush government to power, has not affected the momentum of intense engagement between the two countries at various levels.