NEW DELHI : The US on Thursday backed India’s test of an anti-satellite missile, saying Washington will continue to work with India on safety and security in space.

In a statement, the US state department said it had noted a speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday in which he had announced that a missile launched by New Delhi had hit a low-orbit satellite in space at a distance of 300 kilometres and destroyed it.

"As part of our strong strategic partnership with India, we will continue to pursue shared interests in space and scientific and technical cooperation including collaboration in safety and security in space," the statement said.

In the daily foreign office briefing on Wednesday, Robert Palladino, the deputy state department spokesman separately described India as a “premier security partner in the Indo-Pacific region."

“The United States-India defence and security cooperation is rapidly expanding as part of our deepening strategic partnership, and India is one of the premier security partners in the Indo-Pacific region," he said, adding that the US was seeking to expand defence and security cooperation with India.

The two statement together show the warming of ties between the two countries, once seen as being on opposite sides during the Cold War – when India was seen as closer to the then Soviet Union and the US as friendly towards Pakistan.

Even after the end of the Cold War, strains in ties remained with the rapping India on its knuckles for its human rights record and not adhering to international arms control and proliferation laws. India’s five nuclear tests in 1998 attracted stringent sanctions against India’s nuclear and space facilities. The export of dual use items was banned and there was a bar on India acquiring sensitive technology from the international market. The sanctions were lifted and the embargos fell away after India and the US signed the civil nuclear cooperation pact in 2008 – ending 34 years of isolation of India. 

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