India's support for Iran threatens its US relationship and global leadership role
India's statement that it will continue to purchase oil from Iran is a major setback for the US attempt to isolate the Iranian government over the nuclear issue. It's also bitterly disappointing news for those of us who have championed a close relationship with India.
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I wrote a Boston Globe column ten days ago arguing that the US should commit to an ambitious, long-term strategic partnership with India. I remain convinced of its value to both countries and to the new global balance of power being created in this century.Skip to next paragraph
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With its unhelpfulness on Iran and stonewalling on implementation of the landmark US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, however, the Indian government is now actively impeding the construction of the strategic relationship it says it wants with the US.
Presidents Obama and Bush have met India more than halfway in offering concrete and highly visible commitments on issues India cares about. On his State Visit to India in November 2010, for example, Mr. Obama committed the US for the very first time to support India’s candidacy for permanent membership on the UN Security Council. Like many others who wish to see India become a close strategic partner of the US, I supported the president’s announcement.
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Unfortunately, India has made no corresponding gesture in return for the big vision that Obama and Mr. Bush have offered the Indian leadership. It is time that India speak much more clearly about the priority it places on its future with the United States. Most important, India must begin to provide the kind of visible leadership on difficult issues such as Iran that its many friends in the US and around the world had expected to see by now.
Nicholas Burns is director of the Future of Diplomacy Project and faculty chair for programs on the Middle East, and on India and South Asia at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2008, leading the effort to reshape US relations with India. Previously he was US Ambassador to NATO.
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This piece was first published at the Belfer Center's Power & Policy blog.