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Non-Nato ally: US keen to discuss with India

Press Trust of India

Posted: Mar 24, 2004 at 1106 hrs IST

After India sought to play down the US statement that it was considering granting New Delhi non-Nato ally status, Washington has said it is open to a discussion on the issue should New Delhi be interested.

The US has “made it clear” that “it is available for discussion if India should be interested,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at a briefing in Washington on Tuesday. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said on Monday that the US is contemplating granting a non-Nato ally status to New Delhi similar to Pakistan.

India on Tuesday sought to play down US statement that it was considering granting non-Nato ally status to it also, saying New Delhi had not given any consideration for that kind of relationship with the US. Boucher said the relationship that the US shares with India and Pakistan was a separate one and was based on several aspects.

“The relationship we have with India is based on a number of factors: economic, strategic, cooperation in a whole variety of areas. The most recent development, in fact, is a major step forward with what's called the next steps in the strategic partnership.”

Washington's cooperation with Pakistan is on the other hand based on a separate set of activities. Again, economics plays a role, but a different set of circumstances, and also the cooperation against terrorism, Boucher said, “and it's in that regard, I think, where the major non-Nato ally status recommends itself in terms of what we do with Pakistan as various military sales and cooperation efforts against terrorism.”

“So the answer to this is more that the relationships are different and, therefore, it was appropriate to do it with Pakistan. I take it India is saying that they don’t see an interest in it, and that’s fine.”

He said the major non-Nato ally status was a particular aspect of the US’ relationship with Pakistan. “We are, shall we say, de-hyphenating the relationships that we have with India and Pakistan and that we are consigning the hyphen to history so that we have different relationships with Pakistan and with India,” he added.

Washington said on Monday that the US decision to grant major non-Nato ally status to Pakistan was linked to its cooperation in the war on terror.

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