Clinton lands in India to breathe life into ties

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in India on Sunday with hopes of reinvigorating a relationship seen as losing steam despite efforts to bring the world's two largest democracies closer.

Clinton was greeted by streets lined with waving well-wishers as she started her visit in Kolkata, where she will tour monuments and meet ordinary citizens in her latest bid to use her star appeal as a diplomatic tool.

She heads on Monday to New Delhi for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with whom she is expected to raise US calls for India to stop buying oil from Iran, one of the most open disagreements in years between the countries.

Clinton said she saw ample progress in relations with India, pointing to rising trade and cooperation in areas from education to clean energy.

"I think it's like any relationship -- there is progress in some areas that we are very heartened by, and there is more work to be done," Clinton told reporters before her arrival.

"But that's the commitment that we make when we say to another country, we want to be your partner," she said.

After more than a decade of warming relations, India has bristled at a US law that would impose sanctions on banks from countries that buy oil from Iran due to concerns over Tehran's contested nuclear programme.

A senior US official travelling with Clinton acknowledged that India had quietly been cutting back on Iranian oil and that New Delhi -- fiercely protective of its sovereignty -- could not be seen as buckling under US pressure.

"Our assessment is that India is making good progress but we really need to receive assurances that they're going to continue to make good progress," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official said that Carlos Pascual, the US pointman on the issue, would visit New Delhi later this month to determine the next step. Only EU nations and Japan have so far been given exemptions to the sanctions which go into effect on June 28.

India is highly dependent on foreign energy and has historically enjoyed friendly relations with Tehran.

But the US official said that Indian businesses had made "a major strategic bet" on continuing good relations with the United States and did not want to jeopardise them over Iran.

Clinton will meet Monday morning in Kolkata with West Bengal's Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who took power last year by sweeping out nearly 35 years of communist rule in the eastern state.

Clinton will seek to show solidarity with a fellow female leader but also press Banerjee to back the opening up of India's fast-growing retail sector to major foreign companies such as Walmart, the US official said.

Banerjee, a fractious ally of Singh's government, was instrumental in scuttling planned retail reforms. Critics charge that liberalising the sector would devastate India's ubiquitous small stores, but foreign retailers contend that they can improve efficiency and consumer choice.

US businesses, once at the vanguard of building ties with India, have voiced disappointment over the deadlock on retail reform along with parliament's refusal to give US nuclear firms greater protection from liabilities.

Nuclear energy had been a symbolic milestone in the relationship, with former president George W. Bush championing a deal that ended India's decades of isolation over its nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

President Barack Obama has backed another of India's longtime ambitions by supporting its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. But few expect UN reform anytime soon and some Indians have accused the Obama administration of a lack of attention.

T.P. Sreenivasan, a former Indian ambassador to the United Nations, said that the initial expectations for the US-India relationship had not been met but that Clinton had the advantage of being considered a friend of New Delhi.

The visit "comes at a useful time as there is a certain amount of strain in relations that needs to be rectified," he said.

"The relationship has lost momentum partly because... both are preoccupied with their own internal problems," he said.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects
    Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects

    The Philippines and Japan have signed agreements for six official development assistance (ODA) projects amounting to 22.289 billion yen or around P9.6 billion. …

  • Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms
    Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms

    The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) will release a glossary of meteorological terms in Filipino to help the Filipino people better understand weather forecasts and instill disaster awareness among them. National Artist for Literature and KWF president Virgilio Almario said yesterday the KWF produced the glossary titled Patnubay sa Weder Forkast to simplify scientific terms used in the weather bulletins of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration …

  • Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP
    Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP

    Contrary to what romance novel writers would want their readers to believe, there are no perfect marriages in the real world. This was according to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. In a statement titled “CBCP Position Against the Divorce Bill and Against the Decriminalization of Adultery and Concubinage,” Villegas said that while it is not easy to make relationships last, learning how to work out differences – and …

  • DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa
    DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa

    The defense department is holding off repairs and other planned infrastructure projects on Pag-Asa Island, one of seven islets and two reefs occupied by Filipino troops in the disputed Spratly Islands. Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that the maintenance and repair of facilities in Pag-Asa Island are not covered by the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of parties involved in the West Philippine Sea territorial disputes. “Repair and maintenance is okay but before …

  • Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns
    Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns

    An 11-hour power outage will hit five towns in Aurora on Tuesday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) announced yesterday. The NGCP said Baler, Dingalan, San Luis, Ma. Aurora and Dipaculao would be affected by the blackout. The NGCP said parts of Nueva Ecija and Aurora were hit by a power interruption yesterday due to the tripping of the Cabanatuan-Baler 69kV line. …

  • Rules set for climate change programs
    Rules set for climate change programs

    The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) have released the revised guidelines to track and monitor climate change adaptation programs of the government. “The government of the Philippines has demonstrated leadership and strong commitment in implementing a comprehensive reform agenda to respond to climate change,” read the joint memorandum circular published in The STAR yesterday. “With the goal of using the budget process to plan, prioritize and …

  • It’s time to move on– Speaker
    It’s time to move on– Speaker

    The nation can now move on as President Aquino has satisfactorily explained his side on the Mamasapano incident for which he even begged for understanding, lawmakers led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday. “It’s time to move on,” Belmonte said in reaction to Aquino’s pronouncements made before new police graduates at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) last Thursday. The President has spoken far too much about what he knows and about his limited involvement in the …

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options