Asia security needs India, Australia says

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2011 (AFP) – Australia’s defense minister on Wednesday urged a greater role in Asia for India, calling the world’s largest democracy a positive force in a region where attention has long been focused on China. Defense Minister Stephen Smith made his appeal in Washington one week after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke along similar lines during a visit to India, which she said had “the potential to positively shape” Asia’s future.

In a speech about security in the Asia-Pacific region, Smith reiterated Australia’s view that it seeks cooperation with a rising China but pointedly devoted much of his talk to India and new challenges such as cyber-warfare.

“It is in all our interests that India plays the role it could and should as an emerging great power in the security and stability of the region,” Smith said at the Brookings Institution think-tank.

“India’s significance cannot be under-appreciated,” Smith said, saying that the country’s democratic credentials helped give it a growing “strategic weight in the world.” “We see in India a country that combines a remarkable pace of domestic development with an active and constructive role on the regional and world stage,” Smith said.