Prime US diplomat in India calls China ‘elephant within the room’


NEW DELHI (AP) — A prime U.S. envoy on Monday known as China “an elephant within the room” and stated Washington is eager to advance India’s pursuits throughout the Indo-Pacific area.

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun stated the U.S. was exploring methods to empower India with out altering what he known as New Delhi’s “sturdy and proud custom of strategic autonomy.”

Biegun spoke on the opening session of the India-U.S. Discussion board in New Delhi after his three-day go to to India kicked off Monday.

“India has a robust and proud custom of strategic autonomy, and we respect that. We don’t search to vary India’s traditions,” he stated. “Somewhat we wish to discover methods to empower them and India’s potential to defend its personal sovereignty and democracy and to advance Indian pursuits, throughout the Indo-Pacific area.”

In that route, Washington has elevated its overseas navy gross sales and intelligence sharing with India, Biegun stated.

“However there’s extra that we are able to do, together with strengthening India’s potential to defend itself and by selling interoperability amongst our militaries,” he stated.

Biegun cautioned about rising China within the area. “In fact, as we advance on this route, there’s an elephant within the room: China,” he stated.

His go to follows a gathering final week between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterparts of India, Japan and Australia in Tokyo, who collectively make up the 4 Indo-Pacific nations referred to as the Quad. The group of the 4 nations is seen as a counterweight to China who consultants say is flexing its navy muscle within the South China Sea, East China Sea, Taiwan Straits and alongside its northern border with India.

Pompeo had stated China’s more and more assertive actions throughout the area make it extra vital than ever for the Quad to cooperate and defend their companions and folks from Chinese language “exploitation, corruption and coercion.”

Biegun’s New Delhi go to additionally comes amid a latest flareup in navy tensions between China and India over the disputed mountainous border within the Ladakh area. Washington has additionally more and more criticized Beijing over the coronavirus, commerce, know-how, Hong Kong, Taiwan and human rights.

China has denied allegations of overlaying up the pandemic, saying it acted shortly to supply data to the World Well being Group and the world. It says the U.S. is the most important aggressor within the South China Sea. Beijing additionally denies human rights violations in its dealing with of Hong Kong and minority Muslims within the Xinjiang area. It accuses Western nations of meddling in its inner affairs.

Biegun stated that the partnership between the 4 Quad nations is pushed by “shared pursuits, not binding obligations, and isn’t meant to be an unique grouping.”

“Any nation that seeks a free and open Indo-Pacific and is prepared to take steps to make sure that, ought to be welcome to work with us,” stated Biegun.

Biegun is anticipated to put the groundwork for the “2+2” dialogue throughout his go to to India between Pompeo and U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper and their Indian counterparts Exterior Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh later this month.

Biegun’s remarks about respecting India’s strategic autonomy have been seen as placating India’s issues about forging direct strategic alliances in an try to not upset rising China. India is the one nation among the many Quad nations that shares borders with Beijing.


Hussain reported from Srinagar, India.

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