Thursday, September 06, 2007

USG and the SCO

Evan Feigenbaum, the deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, spoke at The Nixon Center today. Given that I have paid a good deal of attention to the Shanghai grouping and the aftermath of the Bishkek summit, I was quite interested in his remarks.

The sense I got was that the U.S. is watching the Shanghai grouping, and has concerns, but is also not overreacting because Washington sees that there are a number of countervailing tendencies. The four Central Asian members of the SCO are also part of NATO's partnership for peace; the U.S. has an active economic relationship with many SCO states, not least of which is China; the U.S. has fruitful bilateral relations with all SCO members. Feigenbaum said, "Over the past sixteen years, Central Asians have demonstrated remarkable skill in turning great power rivalry into an asset that maximizes their independence."

On the question of complementarity between U.S. interests and the SCO agenda--something Richard Weitz discussed earlier this week, he said: "We don't seek to become a member or observer of the SCO. But we welcome all initiatives that are complement the affirmative agenda we believe we are pursuing with our Central Asian partners."

The theme was that the U.S. government is watching and assessing.

It's a pretty mild reaction, I have to say ...
Seems that perhaps some people in Washington are listening to some of our people here in Delhi.
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