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Diplomacy in Action

Remarks at Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi

Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Ministry of External Affairs
New Delhi, India
April 18, 2012


ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: We had a strategic dialogue about the Asia Pacific region. We are very supportive of India’s role and their Look East Strategy, and we are doing what we can do to increase our dialogue on important developments in Burma, Myanmar; how we can work together at the East Asian Summit, the ASEAN Regional forum, and share views on the dynamic developments economically, politically, strategically, militarily in the Asia Pacific Region. I am involved with dozens of dialogues in the Asia Pacific region. This is my favorite and I am very grateful for our hosts – we are off to a very good start this morning. I am happy to take couple of questions or any particular comments. Please.

QUESTION: Sir, you spoke about India’s role, you know, given tensions in the South China Sea, China’s growing, the military rise, et cetera. What kind of a role do you see could India play in the region?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Well, India has so much to bring to the table. It is hard describe any one area. First of all they are extraordinarily supportive of developments throughout South East Asia. Their role in Indonesia, the countries of the lower Mekong, this is an enormously important role that India plays. They have an interest in strategic interactions. I think you will have seen recent meetings between the Prime Minister and the President of Korea reflect dramatically improving relations between India and other countries in North East Asia, Japan, South Korea and also China as a whole. India’s role in Asia extends to every dimension of national power, economic, strategic, people-to-people, cultural, military. So we think that this development would be one of the most important developments of Asia in the 21st century.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Sir, about Myanmar, when will the U.S. lift its sanctions? Once Aung San Suu Kyi enters Parliament? Is there any such (inaudible)?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Yes, thank you for the question. Secretary Clinton announced after the election results were announced that the United States will began a deliberate process of lifting financial sanctions and investment restrictions. We believe such a process is essential in helping to advance the process of reform inside the country. We believe that the government has taken bold and necessary steps to support those steps. We want them to continue, but United States believes that it must recognize courageous efforts that have been taken to date. So, we have made clear that we will take these economic steps. We will support the establishment of a UNDP office inside the country. A USAID Mission will open. We are also going to lift travel restrictions. We have invited the Foreign Minister to visit the United States in May. We are excited about that visit. What we are looking for is support of every element of reforms that have taken place and to encourage further steps, particularly in areas that are still dealing with violence ethnic minority areas along the borders. This could be once in a generation chance, and the United States does not want to miss this opportunity to support it. And frankly, I must say we have received very good advice and counsel from India over the course of last couple of years and encouragement about engagements and we are grateful for that and we think that that advice has been good advice in terms of how we should approach the opportunities that we are facing today.

QUESTION: Was there any discussion over the North Korean Government?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Today? Yes, we have discussed it generally, we will it discuss more over lunch. We were grateful for the statement that the Indian Government put out. I think all understand that this test is provocative, it is unhelpful in terms of peace and stability in North East Asia and we are working in the United Nations and elsewhere to send a very strong message of solidarity both that the current steps that they have taken in terms of the rocket launch were antithetical to UN Security Council resolutions, and any further provocations would be most unwelcome indeed.

QUESTION: Can I have a follow-up to the first question? China is unhappy with India’s exploration in the South China Sea. Is there any stand that the U.S. has in this regard?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Look, all I would say is that the United States is very, very careful about how we talk about and how we act in the South China Sea. Secretary Clinton in 2010 in Vietnam and 2011 in Indonesia, Bali, laid out very clear criteria about how we would like to see issues handled that are legally-based in issues associated with the Law of the Sea, that the maintenance of peace and stability is in the strategic interest of our country and others, and that the need for peaceful dialogue would be critical going forward. So, we try not to get in the business of bilateral interactions and disputes, but instead have a principled policy about the parameters on which a dialogue or discussion should be based.

Thank you all very much.

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