Tillerson calls on India to play greater role in region

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley at UN headquarters during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley at UN headquarters during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Wednesday for the US and India to expand strategic ties.

USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson says the Donald Trump administration expects Pakistan to take "decisive action against terrorist groups" based within its borders.

Tillerson's speech, which also touched on Myanmar, comes just three weeks before President Donald Trump makes his first official trip to China.

Tillerson said the USA and India were leading regional efforts on counterterrorism.

"The Trump administration is determined to dramatically deepen ways for the United States and India to work together", Tillerson said at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he was a board member for 11 years.

"China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the worldwide, rules-based order", he added.

Tillerson pointedly criticized China's model of economic development in smaller countries, announcing that the United States is talking to other countries about offering an alternative to Beijing's lending practices which, he said, saddle nations with "enormous levels of debt".

"We hope the United States side can look at China's development and role in the worldwide community in an objective way, and abandon its biased views of China", foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said during a regular press briefing.

That official stressed that Tillerson "did say that we obviously want constructive relations with China".

Healthy relations between China and the U.S. are good for the people of both nations and are expected by the Asia-Pacific region, he added.

"In this period of uncertainty and angst, India needs a reliable partner on the world stage", Tillerson said, days before he departs for South Asia. He called for India's archrival Pakistan "to take decisive action against terrorist groups based within their own borders that threaten its own people and the broader region". The US should collaborate with India to create a region of "peace, stability, and growing prosperity - so that it does not become a region of disorder, conflict, and predatory economics", he said. He said China was offering financing that saddles countries with enormous debt and triggers for repayment that lead to default.

A senior State Department official told reporters that the speech was meant to map out a strategy for US-India relations for the next century, in which the region's leading democracies - also including Japan and Australia - blunt China's growing influence and challenges to the rules-based order.

"It's up to the leadership of the quartet when they want to engage with Qatar because Qatar has been very clear - they're ready to engage", said Tillerson, who will visit Saudi Arabia on Friday, before heading to Qatar.

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