US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton began a three-day visit to India yesterday by urging India not to repeat US mistakes in contributing to global pollution and passionately defending US demands for help in fighting terrorism.
“We acknowledge now with President [Barack] Obama that we have made mistakes in the United States, and we along with other developed countries have contributed most significantly to the problem that we face with climate change,” she said. “We are hoping a great country like India will not make the same mistakes.”
She was referring to Obama’s statement in Italy earlier this month that the US had “sometimes fallen short” of its responsibilities in controlling its carbon emissions.
Speaking at a news conference on the pool-side patio of the Taj Mahal Palace & Hotel, which was strewn with bodies after terrorists attacked the coastal city of Mumbai in November, she cast India and the US as allies in the fight against terrorism.
“Yesterday’s bombings in Jakarta, Indonesia, provide a painful reminder that the threat of such violent extremism is still very real. It is global. It is ruthless. It is nihilistic and it must be stopped,” she said.
“We have a great sense of solidarity and sympathy, having gone through what we did on 9/11,” she said.
Her voice rising, Clinton insisted that the US demand for international action against terrorism should not be taken lightly.
“We know how important [it is]. We are fighting wars to end the threat of terrorism against us, our friends and allies around the world,” Clinton said. She said India could choose its own way of contributing but must be part of a broader effort to defeat the threat.
“We expect everyone” who shares the US goal of a more stable world “to take strong action to prevent terrorism from taking root on their soil and making sure that terrorists are not trained and deployed” from their territory to carry out attacks elsewhere, she said.
Earlier, Clinton attended a ceremony commemorating the victims of the Mumbai attack, which killed 166 and raised tensions between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan. At the event were five staffers from the Oberoi Hotel and 10 from the Taj, including general manager Karambir Kang, who lost his wife and two children during the three-day siege.
In a memorial book she wrote: “Americans share a solidarity with this city and nation. Both our people have experienced the senseless and searing effects of violent extremism ... Now it is up to all nations and people who seek peace and progress to work together. Let us rid the world of hatred and extremism that produces such nihilistic violence.”
She also met 11 Indian business leaders, including Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, the largest privately held company in India.
Echoing remarks made by Ambani at the meeting, Clinton said India should leapfrog the developed world to come up with its own innovative ways to encourage environmentally friendly growth.
“Just as India went from a few years ago having very few mobile phones to now having more than 500 million mostly cellphones by leapfrogging over the infrastructure we built for telephone service, we believe India is innovative and entrepreneurial enough to figure out how to deal with climate change while continuing to lift people out of poverty and develop at a rapid rate,” she said.