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India Too Likely To Get Non-NATO Ally Status, Hints Washington Email this page
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Washington, Mar. 23 (NNN):In the wake of strong Indian reaction over Washington designating Pakistan last week as its non-North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the United States has indicated that it was mulling to do the same in the case of neighbouring India.
Dropping the hint in this regard, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan when asked at a press briefing on Monday about Washington's recent decision to confer the status of non-NATO ally on Pakistan, said : "I think we made it clear that we're willing to explore the same possibility of similar cooperation with India."

American Secretary of State Collin L. Powell and State Department spokesman Richard Boucher too gave similar hits of putting New Delhi in the same category.

The designation would mean India and Pakistan will join an exclusive club of nations, including Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, given preferential treatment.

Washington has said its decision to grant major non-NATO ally status to Pakistan was linked to Islamabad's cooperation in the war on terrorism.

Elaborating on the issue, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Monday by saying: "This decision underscored the importance of Pakistan's role in the war against international terrorism, particularly in the continuing fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taleban."

He, However termed the partnerships with India and Pakistan "close and productive" and said US will continue to build strong bilateral relations with both the countries.

Each of these relationships stands on its own merits, he said adding Secretary of State Collin L. Powell, during his visit to the countries last week, reviewed expanding bilateral ties with the neighbours.

Shortly after declaring Pakistan a major non-NATO ally last week, US Secretary of State said en route to Kuwait that Washington wanted to have a similar relationship with India too.

"Major Non-NATO Ally status (with Pakistan) was something we have been working on for months and months and months...... Took this opportunity to make brief mention of it (in Islamabad). It is not a reward for A.Q. Khan; it is part of a continuing relationship and we have been doing things to demonstrate to the Pakistanis that we are good, solid, long-term partners. The same relationship we want to have with India."

Powell did not say whether in the case of India there would be a notification nor was he asked about it. "It is part of a normal relationship with countries that we have military-to-military relationships with and we think it is sensible to do", Powell said, adding: "... We are doing a lot with them because we want to have a good relationship with Pakistan and a good relationship with India."

Earlier the United States had said that its grant of special military status to Pakistan should not anger India.

"No, it shouldn’t," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said on Friday at a media briefing when asked whether it would heighten tensions between them. US Secretary of State Colin Powell announced during a visit to Pakistan on Thursday that President George Walker Bush would soon designate the country as a "major non-NATO ally".

He said that the reward came on the heels of Washington’s pledge to work with Congress on a $3 billion assistance package for Pakistan.

Ereli emphasised that Washington did not see its relationship with India or Pakistan as a "zero-sum game".

On Saturday finally reacting to America's decision on Pakistan, India had asserted that the move has 'significant implications' for relations between New Delhi and Washington and said it was 'disappointing' it had not been forewarned.

New Delhi strongly voiced "disappointment" over Powell not informing India about its decision.

"The Secretary of State was in India just two days before this statement was made in Islamabad. While in India, there was much emphasis on India-US strategic partnership. It is disappointing that he did not share with us this decision of the United States Government," said Navtej Sarna, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson.

"We are studying the details of this decision, which has significant implications for India-US relations. We are in touch with the U S Government in this regard," the foreign ministry statement said.

It noted that Powell announced in Islamabad that Pakistan would be designated a 'major non-NATO ally' two days after holding talks in New Delhi.

Saturday’s was India's first reaction to Powell's statement in Islamabad on March 18 that US would designate Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally for the purposes of military-to-military relations.

Soon after Powell's announcement, Robert Blake, deputy to US Ambassador David C Mulford, went to South Block on Thursday and met senior External Affairs Ministry officials.

Blake is believed to have told the officials that Washington considered India as its strategic partner and was committed to further cementing Indo-US ties.

And in Washington, officials asserted that that its grant of special military status to Pakistan should not anger India.

"No, it shouldn’t," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said at a media briefing when asked whether it would heighten tensions between them. US Secretary of State Colin Powell announced during a visit to Pakistan on Thursday that President George W Bush would soon designate the country as a "major non-NATO ally".

He said that the reward came on the heels of Washington’s pledge to work with Congress on a $3 billion assistance package for Pakistan.

Ereli emphasised that Washington did not see its relationship with India or Pakistan as a "zero-sum game".

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