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Ravi Ranjan asked: What could be the implications of the proposed US-China consultations on South Asia for India? Are we seeing formation of G-2?

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  • Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: US-China consultations on South Asia are on for quite some time. The fourth round is coming up later this year. They are discussing all issues including India-Pakistan relations. There have been even indirect offers to mediate if it was agreeable to both the parties.

    However, there is no cause for concerns as far as India is concerned. Both China and the US understand that all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan should be resolved bilaterally and at the most they would play the role of facilitators. Both the countries have on different occasions asked Pakistan in the past to join India in a dialogue rather than seek their mediation in the event of any crisis.

    As far as other issues in South Asia are concerned, there is, one believes, a tacit recognition of the preeminent strategic position of India, which is duly backed by a realisation that any attempt either to hurt the strategic interests of India or change the power equations would be counter-productive; it would upset the regional power balance and threaten regional peace.

    Moreover, for China, the American attempt to undertake a regular dialogue on South Asia will both comfort China for the importance it receives from the US, and help China moderate its approach towards South Asia.

    There is disquiet at certain levels in India about the growing Chinese footprints in the neighbouring countries especially because of the temptation of these countries to use China as a balancer against India, wrongly perceived as a hegemon. However, in view of the shift in India-US relations in the recent years, US-China dialogue can be used as a forum to transmit Indian concerns to China regularly. On the whole, India should keep a close eye on the discussions in the forum, establish a healthy line of communication with both the countries, and communicate its concerns in a free, frank and uninhibited manner.