Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew today gave a readout of his south asia trip and some of the vital issues that he saw along the way.
“We started in Iraq, and I think it was very important to go to Iraq right now at this time. We’re in the middle of making some very important decisions about how to manage the transition from the military presence as we draw down into a new civilian presence that’s headed towards a more normal kind of footprint in Iraq.” – Mr. Lew
He said he had very good meetings with both U.S. military and civilian leadership in Iraq. He said they discussed many issues ranging from how do specific programs like police training become effectively implemented in a new construct.
“I think that my observation was that it was outstanding military-civilian cooperation. There’s one team there. There is a real unity of purpose and very clear thinking about the fact that it’s not just handing one set of responsibilities over, but rethinking what the U.S. mission and presence is after the drawdown.” – Mr. Lew
In Kirkuk, he met with the local governor, talked at length about the economic and development issues in Kirkuk.
“We went from Iraq to India, and in India really tried to focus on the U.S.-India relationship. We went there with the hopes of discussing our development relationship, particularly food security, and taking the next step in the strategic dialogues that the Secretary announced when she was there very recently. We had good discussions both at a governmental level and with leaders of civil society.” – Mr. Lew
He cited there was a lot of interest in the area of food security, where he has learned from India and to help India take the next steps that it needs to take.
“It was quite striking that food security is not thought of as a domestic issue in India; it’s thought of as a national security issue. And there was a lot of interest in the topic, both in terms of how technology transfer can be affected, and how we can work together to deal with problems in India and not just the region, but around the world.” – Mr. Lew
From India, they went to Pakistan. In Pakistan, they focused on a number of issues. He said in the conversations they had with the Pakistani officials. He said the Pakistani officials said it is extremely important statement from the United States that they are thinking in multiyear terms and thinking about a program that has integrity over a period of time.
“We raised also the fact that it’s not just a question of assistance on projects, but that Pakistan had to take some very hard steps to reform its electric utility sector in order for there to be the real opportunity for sustainable progress. I was pleased that both in the conversation with the prime minister and with the finance minister, they heard that message and they responded very positively.” – Mr. Lew