US India Friendship, Not a Tit-for-tat Business: Blake

Washington, May 14 (IANS) The United States has voiced deep disappointment at India did not choosing US bidders for its $12 billion fighter jet deal but said it would not affect their long-term friendship as "natural economic partners."

"The US-India partnership is a long-term friendship, not a tit-for-tat business arrangement," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, said Friday at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank.

"We are natural economic partners. In fact, we are now extending our economic partnership to benefit third countries," he said speaking on "The Current State of US-India Cooperation and Prospects for the Future."

"For the first time in our history, the United States and India have jointly approached three African countries with a proposal to collaborate on building agricultural capacity," Blake said.

"As a result, India has become an integral part of the President's Feed the Future initiative, which has taken on greater importance with the possible return of higher food prices," he said.

Neither country can take the relationship for granted, Blake said stressing the need to work together to ensure that the initiatives launched during President Barack Obama's India visit are implemented.

"This will build the political support in Washington and Delhi, as well as Mumbai and Manhattan, to think more ambitiously about what we can achieve, and where our partnership will go."

Seeking support of "our people, our businesses, our diverse, intertwined knowledge based societies" for the next chapter of the US-India partnership, Blake cited a saying of Indian poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore, "the great Bengali son and hero to all Indians" that "you can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water."

Blake also voiced hope that India would pursue a new round of economic reforms, including liberalising its retail and defence sectors, after the recent conclusion of state assembly elections.

"We've received some indications that there may be some progress in some of these areas over the coming six months now that this most recent round of elections is behind them," he said.

"This is a sovereign decision to be made by our Indian friends, but this is something that is going to benefit them," he said.


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Title: US India Friendship, Not a Tit-for-tat Business: Blake

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