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Target : India - The Indian Express

Chidanand Rajghatta ()
26 January 1997

Title : Target : India
Author : Chidanand Rajghatta
Publication : The Indian Express
Date : January 26, 1997

The United States' highest ranking woman government executive in 220 years
straight away defined her priorities on Day One of her tenure at the State
Department, in the process identifying the Indian subcontinent as one of the
neglected regions of the world and promising it increased attention.

In her first pow-wow with the media at the State Department on Friday. after
taking over as the country's 64th Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright came
across as a tough even brassy woman with a mission. She pledged to "tell it
like it is" to China and ticked off what she called rogue states like Iran
and Iraq.

Some of the specific priorities she identified (which will have a bearing on
the Indian subcontinent) include "controlling the spread of weapons of mass
destruction: fighting the forces of international terrorism, drug trafficking
and transational crime; strengthening those around the globe who are working
for human rights, democracy. development a healthy environment and the rule
of law".

She also promised to "pay increased attention to the sometimes overlooked
regions of Latin America, South Asia and Africa". Her specific identification
of South Asia appeared to be in tune with the priorities she is said to have
stated in private, which includes a more active role in the Indian
subcontinent. Albright said she planned to meet with her counterparts from a
number of capitals over the next few weeks, but stopped short of naming any
individual or country. In a lighter vein, she joked that she was not going to
challenge her predecessor's record: he travelled nearly 700,000 miles during
his tenure.

"We haven't worked out the details, but I expect to make a trip sometime in
February to parts of Europe and Asia. My purpose will be to establish good
personal and working relationships and to renew acquaintances with leaders I
have met and to get to know those that I have not met yet. The destinations,
obviously, are not accidental," she said.

Albright's singling out of South Asia as a region needing attention has both
delighted and agitated Indian officials. On the one hand, Indians have long
complained that Americans do not pay any attention to India and that New
Delhi has remained a blip on the US radar screen. Albright's predecessor
never once visited India during his four years in office.

On the other hand, some diplomats fret about what "zealous American
attention" could bring. "Sometimes, we feel better off when we are left
alone.... Do we really want them to look at us, sores and all?" one official
mused. But that period of benign neglect may be drawing to a close. In
fact, some of the appointments Albright has lined up could presage a more
active US agenda - not necessarily negative - on the subcontinent. Although
she pre-empted questions about her new deputies saying the White House would
make the announcements, there are three key appointments in the pipeline that
will have a great bearing on India. They may even gladden some hearts in New


Strongly tipped to be one of her Under Secretaries (for Political Affairs) is
Thomas Pickering, who was ambassador to India in 1992-93 and then moved on as
envoy to Moscow before retiring last year. Pickering is one of the most
honoured career diplomats in the State Department who professes great love
and admiration for India. In fact, his appointment as ambassador to India in
1992 astonished many because of his seniority and stature -- he was then the
US envoy to the UN, Albright's job before she became Secretary of State.
Many saw it as a punishment posting as one of his colleagues put it at that


ANOTHER probable appointee is Stuart Eizenstat who will be the Under
Secretary for Economic Affairs in the State Department. In his previous
avatar as Under-Secretary for Commerce during Clinton's first term, Eizenstat
was plugged into New Delhi's economic reforms and is familiar with the
economic and political terrain of India. Tim Wirth, who is Under-Secretary
for Global Affairs and is also well informed about India, is staying on.


Also on the anvil is the naming of Karl Frederick Inderfurth as Assistant
Secretary for South Asia in place of Robin Raphel. Inderfurth, 50, is an
Albright protege and was with her at the United Nations when she was the US
ambassador there. Before that he made a brief foray into journalism, first
as National Security Correspondent with special focus on arms control with
ABC Television and later as the Moscow bureau chief during the collapse of
the Soviet Union. He took a journalism sabbatical after working many years
in the intelligence community, primarily as a staffer in the Senate
Intelligence Committee. He also visited India as special assistant to
National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski during the visit of President
Carter in 1978.

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