India not aware of proposed security pact with Australia, U.S.

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 01, 2011 7:23 AM
India not aware of proposed security pact with Australia, U.S.

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India is not aware of a proposal to enter into a security pact with the United States and Australia, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, pouring cold water on statements made by Australia's foreign minister.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said in an interview with the Australian Financial Review newspaper on Wednesday that he backed the creation of a trilateral security deal and that the response from the Indian government had been "positive.

"We have seen media reports about the comments attributed to the Australian Foreign Minister Mr. Kevin Rudd on a possible three-way economic and security pact with the U.S. and India. We are not aware of any such proposal," India's foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement on its website.

Talk of such a pact could fuel China's worries of being fenced in by wary neighbors.

It was unclear why Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking Sinophile, would risk irritating Australia's top trade partner China which is already nervous that U.S. President Barack Obama's latest diplomatic push into the Asia-Pacific is part of broader U.S. policy to encircle it.

But Rudd earlier this month said Australia's security arrangements with the United States were not "snap-frozen in time," and while China wanted to see the elimination of U.S. alliances in East Asia, Australia disagreed.

Indian defense analyst Uday Bhaskar has said India was unlikely to enter into such a pact, partly out of reluctance to risk riling China, and partly because of its long history of keeping out of such arrangements.

(Reporting by Matthias Williams and Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Malini Menon and Yoko Nishikawa)