Washington: As President Barack Obama completes his first 100 days in office this week, his top aide Tuesday said the recent actions by the US indicates that it wants to work closely with India as a partner in addressing the “increasingly dire” situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Karl F Inderfurth, a Democrat and South Asian expert, said there are “encouraging signs” to show that Obama administration is keen to build on the foundation laid by his precedessors Bill Clinton and George W Bush and take the Indo-US relationship to the next level.
“The meeting between Obama and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the London G-20 Summit early this month was an important one,” Indefurth, who served as Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs during Bill Clinton’s regime, told PTI in an interview.
“It (the meeting) demonstrated that the United States fully recognises the role India plays on the world economic scene,” he said.
The former diplomat, who was a foreign policy adviser on South Asia to Obama during his campaign, said the meetings Richard Holbrooke, US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has had with Indian officials indicates “that the US wants to work closely with India as a partner in addressing what is an increasingly dire situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
Inderfurth said the April 2 meeting between Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was an “indication that there is going to be close cooperation between United States and India to address the global crisis”.
As Afghanistan-Pakistan is getting the highest attention in the Obama Administration, Inderfurth said clearly the visits by Holbrooke to New Delhi has underscored the important role that India has with respect to assisting and addressing the situations in these countries.
“I think this has been a very important signal during the first 100 days, as well as the fact that the first overseas trip by the new CIA Director Leon Panetta was to New Delhi,” Inderfurth said.
India being the first overseas destination of Panetta as CIA Director underscores the importance of United States strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation with India, he said.
“Mumbai was a great tragedy, but was also a reminder that the United States and India have to work even more closely to address the terrorist threats that our countries have in the world today,” he said.
“So, I think Obama meeting Prime Minister Singh, the meetings Ambassador (Holbrooke) has had with Indian officials on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the visit by CIA Director Panetta to strengthen counterterrorism cooperation are the three signals in the first 100 days,” Inderfurth said.
“These things are important to show that the US under President Obama is going to have a very strong tie with India and be build on the foundations laid by President Clinton and then by President Bush,“ the former diplomat said.
Encouraged by these steps, Inderfurth said there have been other steps taken by Obama, which almost certainly have been well received and welcomed in India.
“I am talking here President Obama’s decision to close down Guantanamo detention facility, his leadership now on issues like climate change and nuclear threat reduction,” he said.
“I think these broader issues that President Obama has addressed will be well received in New Delhi as well. It’s the positive American leadership and a desire to join with other countries in the world.
“So it is a new direction and a new tone of American leadership. I think that would certainly be very positive in New Delhi,” he said.