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India and US 'Natural Allies,' says US Official - 2003-01-06

A senior U.S. official visiting India said tackling terrorism, Iraq and North Korea are the major challenges confronting the United States, and the international community.

State Department policy planning chief Richard Hass said the situation in North Korea is more complex than in Iraq, where U.N. weapons inspectors are searching for nuclear weapons.

But he said there is no international consensus on how to deal with North Korea's covert nuclear weapons program. "In the case of Iraq the international community is united, so that Iraq is forced to disarm, give up all of its weapons of mass destruction, make a full accounting," said Mr. Hass. "In the case of North Korea we have got a somewhat more complicated situation, given that North Korea has the material to probably produce several weapons of mass destruction already, and there we are trying to forge an international consensus to deal with that problem." Mr. Hass is on a two-day visit to India to discuss South Asian affairs with Indian officials. He said India and the U.S. are natural allies and share many challenges in combating terrorism, which he calls the "dark side of globalizaton."

"The same things, like airplanes and Internet, that make it so easy for people or money or ideas to move across borders can also bring terrorists and terrorism. Terrorists now have access not simply to conventional explosives, but we have to be realistic about it that increasingly we face a future where individuals who resort to terrorism have access potentially even to even weapons of mass destruction, to chemical, or biological or nuclear weapons," Mr. Hass explained.

He said the long-term challenge before the world is to help several Islamic countries become more integrated with the modern world. He said many of these countries missed out on the democratic and economic transformation of recent times. "The challenge in large parts of the Arab and the Islamic world, more generally, is to have states that are able to cope with globalization. To help bring about societies where young men are not alienated, where they have political opportunity, where they have economic opportunity, where they do not turn to terrorism," Mr. Hass said.

From New Delhi, Mr. Hass travels to Hyderabad in southern India to participate in an international business conference.