Foreign relations of India
India's size, population, and strategic location give it a prominent voice in international affairs, and its growing industrial base, military strength, and scientific and technical capacity give it added weight. It collaborates closely with other developing countries on issues from trade to environmental protection. The end of the Cold War dramatically affected Indian foreign policy. India remains a leader of the developing world and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and hosted the NAM Heads of State Summit in 1997. India is now also seeking to strengthen its political and commercial ties with the United States, Japan, the European Union, Iran, Israel, People's Republic of China, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. India is an active member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IORARC).
India has always been an active member of the United Nations and now seeks a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. India has a long tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping operations and most recently contributed personnel to UN operations in Somalia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Kuwait, Bosnia, Angola, and El Salvador.
Bilateral and Regional Relations
The principal source of contention has been Kashmir, whose Hindu Maharaja, Hari Singh of Dogra chose in 1947 to join India, although a majority of his subjects were Muslim. India maintains that his decision and the subsequent elections in Kashmir have made it an integral part of India. Pakistan asserts Kashmiris' rights to self-determination through a plebiscite in accordance with an earlier Indian statement and a UN resolution. This dispute triggered wars between the two countries in 1947 and 1965.
In December 1971, following a political crisis in what was then East Pakistan and the flight of millions of Bengali refugees to India, Pakistan and India again went to war. The brief conflict left the situation largely unchanged in the west, where the two armies reached an impasse, but a decisive Indian victory in the east resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
Since the 1971 war, Pakistan and India have made only slow progress toward normalization of relations. In July 1972, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met in the Indian hill station of Shimla. They signed an agreement by which India would return all personnel and captured territory in the west and the two countries would "settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations." Diplomatic and trade relations were re-established in 1976.
After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, new strains appeared in Indo-Pak relations. Pakistan supported the Afghan resistance, while India was a friend of the USSR. In the following eight years, India voiced increasing concern over Pakistani arms purchases, U.S. military aid to Pakistan, and Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. In an effort to curtail tensions, the two countries formed a joint commission. In December 1988, Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto concluded a pact not to attack each other's nuclear facilities. Agreements on cultural exchanges and civil aviation also were initiated.
In 1997, high-level Indo-Pakistani talks resumed after a 3-year pause. The Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met twice and the foreign secretaries conducted three rounds of talks. In June 1997, the foreign secretaries identified eight "outstanding issues" around which continuing talks would be focused. The dispute over the status of Kashmir, (referred by India as Jammu and Kashmir), an issue since partition, remains the major stumbling block in their dialogue. India maintains that the entire former princely state is an integral part of the Indian union, while Pakistan insists that UN resolutions calling for self-determination of the people of the state must be taken into account.
In September 1997, the talks broke down over the structure of how to deal with the issues of Kashmir and peace and security. Pakistan advocated that the issues be treated by separate working groups. India responded that the two issues be taken up along with six others on a simultaneous basis. In May 1998 India, and then Pakistan, conducted nuclear tests. Attempts to restart dialogue between the two nations were given a major boost by the February 1999 meeting of both Prime Ministers in Lahore and their signing of three agreements. These efforts have since been stalled by the intrusion of Pakistani-backed forces into Indian-held territory near Kargil in May 1999, and by the military coup in Pakistan that overturned the democratically elected Nawaz Sharif government in October the same year. On June 20, 2004, both countries agreed to extend a nuclear testing ban and to set up a hotline between their foreign secretaries aimed at preventing misunderstandings that might lead to a nuclear war.  (http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/06/20/india.pakistan)
Certain aspects of India's relations within the subcontinent are conducted through the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Its members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Established in 1985, SAARC encourages cooperation in agriculture, rural development, science and technology, culture, health, population control, narcotics control and anti-terrorism.
SAARC has intentionally stressed these "core issues" and avoided more divisive political issues, although political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings. In 1993, India and its SAARC partners signed an agreement gradually to lower tariffs within the region. Forward movement in SAARC has come to a standstill because of the tension between India and Pakistan, and the SAARC Summit originally scheduled for, but not held in, November 1999 has not been rescheduled.
In November 1988, at the behest of the Maldivian government, Indian paratroopers and naval forces crushed a coup attempt by mercenaries. India's action, viewed by some critics as an indication of Indian ambitions to be a regional police officer, were regarded by the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, Nepal, and Bangladesh as legitimate assistance to a friendly government and in keeping with India's strategic role in South Asia.
People's Republic of China
Despite suspicions remaining from the 1962 Sino-Indian War and continuing territorial/boundary disputes, Sino-Indian relations have improved gradually since 1988. Both countries have sought to reduce tensions along the frontier, expand trade and cultural ties, and normalize relations.
A series of high-level visits between the two nations has helped to improve relations. In December 1996, PRC President Jiang Zemin visited India on a tour of South Asia. While in New Delhi, he signed, with the Indian Prime Minister, a series of confidence-building measures along the disputed border, including troop reductions and weapons limitations.
Sino-Indian relations received a setback in May 1998 when the defence of minister of India tried to justify the nuclear tests by citing potential threats from the PRC. These accusations followed criticism of PRC "aggressive actions" in Pakistan and Burma by Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes. However, in June 1999, during the Kargil crisis, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh visited Beijing and stated that India did not consider China a threat. Relations between India and the PRC are on the mend, and the two sides handled the move from Tibet to India of the Karmapa Lama in January 2000 with delicacy and tact. In 2003, India formally recognized Tibet as a part of China.
New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union
The disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had major repercussions for Indian foreign policy. Substantial trade with the former Soviet Union plummeted after the Soviet collapse and has yet to recover. Longstanding military supply relationships were similarly disrupted due to questions over financing, although Russia continues to be India's largest supplier of military systems and spare parts.
Russia and India have decided not to renew the 1971 Indo-Soviet Peace and Friendship Treaty and have sought to follow what both describe as a more pragmatic, less ideological relationship. Russian President Yeltsin's visit to India in January 1993 helped cement this new relationship. The pace of high-level visits has since increased, as has discussion of major defense purchases.
Historically, relations between India and the United States were somewhat cool following Indian independence, as India took a leading position in the Non-Aligned Movement, and pursued economic and military relations with the Soviet Union. For most of the Cold War, the US tended to have warmer relations with Pakistan. However, since the end of the Cold War, India-US relations have improved, as the US and India are both democracies, unlike most recent Pakistani governments, and have a large and growing trade relationship.
The economic sanctions imposed by the United States in response to India's nuclear tests in May 1998 initially seriously damaged Indo-American relations. President Bill Clinton imposed wide-ranging sanctions pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act. U.S. sanctions on Indian entities involved in the nuclear industry and opposition to international financial institution loans for non-humanitarian assistance projects in India. The United States encouraged India to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) immediately and without condition. The U.S. also called for restraint in missile and nuclear testing and deployment by both India and Pakistan. The nonproliferation dialogue initiated after the 1998 nuclear tests has bridged many of the gaps in understanding between the countries. However, India has yet to sign the CTBT, opposing the discriminatory nature of the treaty that allows the 5 declared nuclear countries of the world to keep their nuclear arsenal and develop it using computer simulation testing. Prior to its nuclear testing, India had pressed for a comprehensive destruction of nuclear weapons by all countries of the world in a time-bound frame. This was not acceptable to the US and other countries. Presently, India has declared its policy of "no-first use of nuclear weapons" and the maintenance of a "credible nuclear deterrence". The US, under president George W. Bush has also lifted most of its sanctions on India and has resumed military co-operation. Relations with US have considerably improved in the recent past, with the two countries even taking part in joint naval exercises off the coast of India.
Disputes - international
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