CHENNAI: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged India on Wednesday to be more assertive in Asia, saying the country should play more of a leadership role. "India's leadership has the potential to positively shape the future of the Asia-Pacific... and we encourage you not just to look east, but continue to engage and act east as well," she said in Chennai.
Clinton said India should play a role as a US ally in regional forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and a planned East Asia Summit later this year. New Delhi could also help promote trade links in violence-wracked South Asia, which would bring prosperity and peace to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Clinton said.
"This is not a time when any of us can afford to look inward at the expense of looking outward," she added. "This is a time to seize the emerging opportunities of the 21st century. This is a time to lead." Clinton's encouragement for India reflects US policy of promoting the country as a potential counter-balance to an increasingly assertive China in Asia.
As well as praise and advocacy for India, Clinton returned to the issue of New Delhi's stance on human rights abuses in Asia, which was also highlighted by US President Barack Obama in his visit to the country last year.
"As India takes on a larger role throughout the Asia-Pacific, it is also taking on new responsibilities including the duty to speak out against violations of universal human rights," she said.Obama had chided India for failing to criticise the record of military-run Myanmar.AFP