The US offer to sell F16s and F18s to India, announced on March 25, has to be seen in context. True, this initiative is linked to the White House decision to lift the ban on supplying F16s to Pakistan and the more cynical view is that the US manufacturers of these aircraft will now laugh all the way to the bank as the sub-continent gets sucked into an arms race.
The just concluded visit to India (March 16) by Ms. Condi Rice, the US Secretary of State may be deemed a landmark pointing to a deeper strategic underpinning between the two countries notwithstanding the divergences that were expressed over issues such as Iran and the sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan – which inadvertently received greater focus in the immediate aftermath of the Rice visit. While there is considerable symbolism in the fact that Ms.
The next four weeks will be very eventful for advancing India's relations with the major powers as Delhi prepares to receive US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (March 16), Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (end-March) and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (early April).
The proposal to reconvene the 13th SAARC Summit soon has rekindled the hopes of South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) coming into force on schedule on 01 Jan 2006. It is a sad commentary on the regional economic cooperation that although the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has been in existence for about 20 years, the intra regional trade is still languishing below five percent of the global trade of the member states. It is widely believed that all the seven states of the region will benefit immensely in the long run from the economic benefits of SAFTA.
Putting an end to all speculations, protests from the media and other quarters and hectic Chinese diplomatic parleys in Brussels before the EU-China Summit in December 2004, the EU finally declared (December 8) that the arms embargo on China would not be lifted for the time being. The embargo, which was sanctioned against China in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square tragedy in 1989, remained one of the most debatable issues before the summit. The EU however informed that there was a willingness within the Union to work towards the lifting of the ban.
India-Pakistan interaction, in recent days, is fast losing its familiar flavour of distrust and bitterness. This is not to deny, however, that one can still identify the inertial sense of rancour, the propensity to misunderstand and misinterpret each other within the dialogic track that has completed one year.
China has not issued any official statement on the recently concluded elections in Iraq. However, in a Press Conference on February1, 2005, to a question on the elections, the Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan said that:
While cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and multiple insurgencies in the Northeast remain the focus of India’s internal security planning, left-wing extremism (LWE) is gradually becoming another major source of concern. An assessment of the developments during the current year reveals their continuously expanding sphere of violence — both in terms of scale and intensity.