Washington: Describing US and India as “natural allies”, a top American diplomat has allayed all apprehensions that under Barrack Obama administration there is diminution of New Delhi’s importance to Washington.
“I think the US and India increasingly are natural allies. We share a growing convergence of our values and our interests. Our peoples and our governments are engaged together in virtually every field of human endeavour,” said Robert Blake, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia.
“After more than a decade of cooperation, it is clear there’s strong and bipartisan support in both countries to cooperate even more closely,” he said.
Blake said the upcoming visit of secretary of state Hillary Clinton to India will answer some of those who are whispering that President Obama’s new comprehensive strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan has somehow caused a diminution of India’s importance to the United States.
“I am here to tell you that that is absolutely not the case. On the contrary, this is a time of great optimism and of great promise in our relations with India,” he said.
“In a few weeks, as all of you know, secretary of state Clinton is going to be going out to India to announce with our Indian friends our new strategic partnership between our two great nations,” Blake said in his address to a meeting on India-US ties organized by the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think-tank.
He said the victory of Congress party in the recent general elections, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s new mandate and Obama’s strong support for strengthening ties with India has opened the way for a new and invigorated partnership between the two countries.
Obama and Clinton view India as one of the key countries in the 21st century that will help shape the world of the 21st century, he observed.
Referring to his recent trip to India, he said he heard from India interlocutors that sky is the limit to the US-India relationship. “Actually, with our growing space cooperation, we may have to extend that particular boundary of cooperation,” he said.
He said the US response to the Mumbai attacks reinforced the unprecedented cooperation that has taken place between the US and India on terror financing, law enforcement, training and information-sharing.
In recent months, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the CIA chief, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and national security adviser all have visited India to underline and strengthen that cooperation.
Blake said there is room for expanded defence cooperation between the United States and India. As India’s economy grows, it has sought to modernize its military, and US technology can and should be a part of that modernization.
“We are working hard to conclude bilateral agreements such as the end-use monitoring agreement that will help to ensure that defense sales and military-to-military cooperation can continue their positive trajectory,” he said.