US Wants India to Play Key Role in Asia-Pacific Region

Washington, Nov 23 (IANS): Welcoming India's 'Look East' approach, US President Barack Obama very much wants India to play a significant role in the region as an Indian Ocean power, according to a top presidential advisor.

"The President very much welcomes India's 'Look East' approach," White House Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes told reporters Tuesday in a briefing on Obama's recent trip to Asia during which he also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"We believe that just as the United States, as a Pacific Ocean power, is going to be deeply engaged in the future of East Asia, so should India as an Indian Ocean power and as an Asian nation," he said.

Rhodes said one of the reasons that the US believe the East Asia Summit should be the principal strategic forum in the region is because it brings India into the equation as well as United States, as well as Russia.

"In addition to having the East Asian nations, ASEAN nations, (that) we believe it's very important to have both India, the United States, also Russia at the table for those discussions," he said.

Referring to Obama's bilateral meeting with Manmohan Singh in Bali, Rhodes said: "they were able to discuss a range of bilateral issues, but they also discussed, again, their commitment to the region, some of the shared principles that we have on issues like maritime security and nonproliferation and disaster relief, which were our top agenda items."

"So we very much want India to play a significant role in the region, and frankly, that's part of the reason why we have been so focused on empowering the East Asia Summit as a venue for strategic-level discussions in addition to economic discussions," he said.

US saw its relationship with emerging powers "as critical to recognizing the way in which the Asia Pacific region is changing," Rhodes said underlining the context for Obama's Asia trip.

"And to that end, we've had very, very comprehensive engagement with China and India from the beginning of the administration, many different high-level visits and exchanges, a deepening of the context between the US Government and the Chinese and Indian Government."


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