What Mr. Shultz should say to Mrs. Gandhi

Secretary of State George Shultz's visit to India this week will mark the first anniversary of strengthening India-US ties - a framework established by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's highly publicized meeting with President Reagan in July 1982. She charmed US congressmen and described her meeting with President Reagan as ''very good.'' At home, she received high political marks for accomplishing two major objectives in the United States: dispelling the image that India is completely in the Soviet camp and resolving a long dispute with the US over the supply of low-enriched uranium fuel to India's Tarapur nuclear plant.

The Reagan administration should be pleased with India's two innovative moves in the realm of foreign policy.

First, Mrs. Gandhi visited the Soviet Union (Sept. 20-26) following her visit to the US and publicly noted that India wants Soviet troops to leave Afghanistan. This is considered a significant shift in her attitude toward the Soviet Union.

Second, Mrs. Gandhi succeeded Fidel Castro of Cuba as the leader of the nonaligned movement earlier this year in New Delhi. At last March's summit meeting of nonaligned nations Mrs. Gandhi rejected all suggestions that the Soviet Union be declared the movement's ''natural ally.'' The Indian leader shook the pro-Soviet label and reestablished her credentials as a leader of the nonaligned movement.

She also set a nonconfrontational tone in the South's approach to the North by emphasizing a specific list of ''immediate measures'' that industrial countries should pursue for world economic recovery. She stressed the need for developing countries to rely on their own resources, technologies, and skills for collective self-reliance and thus concentrate on what has come to be known as South-South cooperation.

These policy shifts are important signals to the Reagan administration as an indication that Mrs. Gandhi is interested in a continuous upgrading of Indo-US relations. Now, it is Mr. Shultz's turn to show that the administration is equally ready and willing. During his visit to New Delhi Secretary Shultz should:

* Assure Mrs. Gandhi that the US will respond favorably to India's requests for bilateral and multilateral concessional aid. This is particularly important, since Mrs. Gandhi has lifted controls on imports, private sector expansion, licensing, plant capacity, and foreign investment. She is willing to experiment with new economic policies so long as the administration pursues an open door policy on Indian exports - an important foreign exchange earner.

* Frankly tell Mrs. Gandhi that there is considerable congressional support for arms sales to India. Secret talks on arms began after Mrs. Gandhi visited the US last year. The talks culminated in genuine interest in buying American military equipment, especially after India's military observed that Soviet weapons lost virtually every encounter with US weapons in the fighting in Lebanon. If possible, the secretary of state should firm up the deal in New Delhi.

* Take the opportunity to seek counsel from Mrs. Gandhi on the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. As leader of the nonaligned movement Mrs. Gandhi holds an important key for the next three years to the various thorny issues of the Middle East. This was particularly evident when Yasser Arafat, the head of the PLO, with the help of India passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a new committee to mediate problems in the Middle East including the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon and the establishment of an independent and stable government there. Mr. Shultz could request Mrs. Gandhi to use her good offices in persuading the Syrians to leave Lebanon and the US, in turn, could give assurance that Israeli troop withdrawal will be imminent.

When Mr. Shultz goes on to visit Pakistan (July 2-4), he should make it clear that the US will welcome and encourage a summit meeting between Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq and Mrs. Gandhi to sign an India-Pakistan nonaggression pact. The US also believes that such a pact based on mutual interests will strengthen the security and territorial integrity of the subcontinent and will deter any Soviet-sponsored intrusions into Pakistan.

In any case, Mr. Shultz will find a pragmatic, secure, and nonaligned Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who is interested in achieving a more ''centrist'' position for India in the international order that includes friendly relations with the US, and the Soviet Union, as well as China. It will be up to Mr. Shultz to prove in New Delhi that the Reagan administration is equally interested in pursuing a policy of consulting with and informing India about US interests in the region, recognizing and accepting India's role as a nonaligned world power, supporting India's request for multilateral concessional aid, and catering to India's national pride.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK