NEW YORK: A few hours before he left for Washington, where he will have a dinner meeting with US President Barack Obama, PM Modi said the US should not pull out of Afghanistan in haste to prevent repitition of the mistake committed in Iraq.
Addressing the Council for Foreign Relations, Modi said this while making a strong pitch for India and the US to work together for the benefit of the rest of the world. “We should not just talk about what we can do to help each other, but what we can do together to benefit the world.. That should be the baseline,” he said, adding, he had discussed this in detail with Secretary of State John F Kerry.
In that context, Afghanistan came up as appropriate example. “In fact”, he said, “Afghanistan had helped to bring together India and US certainly”.
In his first public question and answer session on foreign policy since assuming office, Modi did not shy away from criticising the US.“I requested them that please don’t make the mistake in Afghanistan of what you did in Iraq. Please don’t withdraw your troops so fast,” he said. In a way, this issue is now moot, as new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that Kabul was ready to sign the bilateral security pact immediately, which was the main condition for the US and NATO for foreign troops to be retained in Afghanistan after the draw down. He also said India and China were competent enough to talk about border dispute.
Earlier, talking about his philosophy for foreign relations, he repeated his vision of an interdependent world, where there are no factions like Cold War. “Now, there are no watertight groups. Some countries who are also in G4 are also in G20, so those days are long gone”.
He also reiterated his priority for South Asia. “I invited all leaders to my swearing-in. I went to Nepal where no (Indian) PM had visited in 17 years. I went to Bhutan. I met more leaders here. I am still busy trying to give more focus to India’s neighbourhood,” he said.