No South Asia reference in US-China joint statement

Friday, January 21, 2011

WASHINGTON - The US has made clear that the absence of a reference to Beijing’s role in South Asia in the latest US-China joint statement did not necessarily reflect a change in policy.

“No. There’s no change in the US policy,” State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley told foreign media Thursday when asked if the reference had been dropped in response to the concerns expressed by India to the 2009 joint statement.

“I think it’s a manifestation of the nature of our discussions here and our - the work that we have ongoing with China. But, no, I wouldn’t read anything else into it,” he said.

The November 17, 2009 joint statement issued after President Barack Obama’s visit to China less than a week before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s state visit to the US, among other things, “welcomed all efforts conducive to peace, stability and development in South Asia.”

It also supported “the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan” and expressed readiness “to strengthen communication, dialogue and cooperation on issues related to South Asia and work together to promote peace, stability and development in that region.”

The Joint Statement issued here after Obama’s talks with visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao made no direct reference to South Asia but clearly said, “The Presidents further reaffirmed their commitment to the November 2009 US - China Joint Statement.”

In response to another question from a Pakistani correspondent, Crowley said the Obama administration encourages greater dialogue between India and Pakistan and supports a regional solution to the challenges in Afghanistan.

“We continue to do everything that we can to support a regional solution to the challenge of Afghanistan,” he said.

“We have encouraged Pakistan to develop its own stronger relationship and understandings with Afghanistan. And there have been an increase in dialogue between Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent months, and we continue to encourage that.”

“And in turn, we continue to encourage greater dialogue between Pakistan and India,” he said.

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