Tillerson on South Asia Policy: Elevated Relationship With India

The United States has elevated its engagement with India as part of its effort of free and open Indo-Pacific.

4 min read
Hindi Female

‘Dealing with Pakistan – I Don't Enjoy That’: Rex Tillerson

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on 13 December, said he does not enjoy dealing with Pakistan as America's relationship with the South Asian country has "drifted over the years", noting that the two countries need to restore the ties to "one of common interest".

"Dealing with Pakistan – I don't enjoy that," Tillerson said in response to a specific query during a town hall with the State Department employees here.

His remark, without any further explanation, was in response to a question posed by a State Department employee who asked: "Is it fair to ask and say do you enjoy your job as Secretary of State?"

...Pakistan is still an important and valued partner of the United States. Over the last decade, the relationship has drifted, and we’ve got to bring this relationship back to one of common interest. Today, that’s just not the case.
Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, USA

"So we're engaged in very frank discussions with Pakistan over the concerns we have about their own stability and their future, and the threat they're under by allowing terrorist organisations to operate in their territory," Tillerson said.

The top US diplomat said the two countries should find ways to work together to bring stability and peace to the whole region.
We’ve got a great team working in that region as well. A lot of work left to do.

Earlier in his remarks, Tillerson referred to the new South Asia Policy as one of the key foreign policy highlights in the first year of the Trump administration.

US Troops to Stay In Afghanistan

Tillerson said that President Donald Trump took a very bold decision by asserting that the US will be in Afghanistan with its military presence and continue to fight terrorism and the Taliban on a conditions-based effort.

He, however, refused to give any time limit for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

"We're there until this thing is brought to a conclusion. It's not a blank cheque. It's not forever. But we're going to stay on the ground and support the Afghan government," he said.

The Afghan government has to continue to deliver on the needed reforms and create the conditions to have an inclusive government that allows for participation of all the ethnic groups in Afghanistan, including the Taliban. When the Taliban are ready to come to that negotiating table, there will be a place for them to participate in a future Afghan government.
Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State

According to him, Trump's South Asia policy aims to deny any safe haven to terrorist organisations in the AfPak region.

The top American diplomat asserted that the policy could be achieved by "eliminating the safe havens", bringing on board the groups fighting with each other to get them involved in dialogue, and creating the conditions for a reconciliation process within Afghanistan for peace.


US Has Elevated Its Relationship With India

The United States has elevated its engagement with India as part of its effort of free and open Indo-Pacific, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said.

"As part of the free and open Indo-Pacific, we have elevated our engagement with India," Tillerson said.

We’ve long had a trilateral relationship in the Indo-Pacific between Japan, Australia, and the US, and we’re now working towards whether this will become a quad relationship to include India because of the importance of India’s rising economy as well and I think shared national security concerns that we have with India.
Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State

On America's relationship with China, he said the administration now has a very active mechanism in which it can put complex issues on the table.

And we have differences, such as the South China Sea and China’s building of structures, militarisation of these structures, and how that affects our allies in the region as well in terms of free and open trade. As we’ve said to the Chinese, we hope we can find a way to freeze this particular activity. Whether we can reverse remains to seen. But it is not acceptable to us that these islands continue to be developed, and certainly not for military purposes.

Tillerson said the US is paying a close attention to Beijing's 'One Belt, One Road' (OBOR) initiative, but sought to clarify that the Trump administration does not intend to contain China's economic growth.

But China’s economic development, in our view, should take place in the system of international rules and norms, and One Belt, One Road seems to want to define its own rules and norms.

The Secretary of State borrowed a quote from Defence Secretary Jim Mattis: "China has One Belt, One Road; the United States and the global economy has many belts and many roads, and no one country gets to choose the belt or the road.”

Tillerson said that a free and open Indo-Pacific means all countries have access to continue their economic development and free access for trade through the region.


(With inputs from PTI)

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