Watch CBSN Live

Tillerson lays out U.S. Asia strategy with focus on India

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson laid out a significant portion of the Trump Administration's Asia strategy – tilting toward India, and applying pressure on China - ahead of the president's November trip, which comes at time of challenges throughout that region. 

In remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday coinciding with Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech Tuesday laying out the Communist Party's agenda at a twice-per-decade leadership meeting, Tillerson pointedly reached out to India. 

The secretary said the administration is "determined to dramatically deepen ways" for the U.S.-India partnership.

"President Trump and Prime Minister Modi are committed – more than any of our leaders before them – to building an ambitious partnership that benefits not only our two great democracies but other sovereign nations working toward greater peace and stability," said Tillerson. 

He said Modi's visit to the White House highlighted the many areas of cooperation between the two nations, including defense, counterterrorism efforts and expanding energy cooperation. 

Tillerson said the U.S. values the role India can play in security and stability globally and "is prepared to ensure they have even greater capabilities."

"Our nations are two bookends of stability standing on either sides of the globe," he added. 

He also referred to Pakistan as "an important U.S. partner in South Asia." 

"We expect Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorist groups based there that threaten its own people and the broader region," Tillerson said. "In doing so, Pakistan furthers stability and peace for itself and its neighbors, and improves its own international standing."

Tillerson was more critical of China, regarding its handling of continued North Korean nuclear provocations, saying, "China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the international, rules-based order – even as countries like India operate within a framework that protects other nations' sovereignty." 

And he indicated that China's actions in the South China Sea are a challenge to international law, as far as both the United States and India are concerned. China has a number of territorial disputes with other Southeast Asian countries, reclaiming islands and even expanding the size of the islands, action which the U.S. considers a security threat. China claims virtually all of the South China Sea through this activity, although an international tribunal in 2016 rejected most of China's claims

While the U.S. continues to seek "constructive relations with China," the U.S. "won't shrink from China's challenges to the rules-based order, and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighboring countries, and disadvantages the U.S. and our friends," Tillerson said. "In a period of uncertainty, India need a reliable partner on the world stage." 

CBS News' Margaret Brennan contributed to this report. 

View CBS News In