Washington, Mar 13 (IANS): Looking at relations with India "as one of the most consequential of US foreign policy in the 21st century", the US wishes to capitalise on their converging values and interests to confront global challenges, said a senior US official.
"India is going to be an increasingly important factor in the 21st century, but also an increasingly important friend," Robert O. Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, said in an interview with Asahi Shimbun.
"So, it's very much in our interest to seize that opportunity now," he said noting, "That's why you saw President (Barack) Obama make Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh the very first state visitor of the new administration."
"And that's why, I think, you're going to see the United States working very, very closely with India in the course of the Obama administration," Black said explaining why Washington wanted to take ties with New Delhi to what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called to a higher "US-India 3.0." level.
"I think President Obama and Secretary Clinton really see that our relations with India are going to be one of the most consequential of US foreign policy in the 21st century," he said according to the transcript of the interview released
by the State Department.
"So we see it as very much in our interest to try to capitalise on the converging values and interests that we have between the United States and India, and the strong people-to-people ties that we have with India," Blake said.
The US wanted to do so to not only make progress on the wide range of bilateral activities that it has with India, "but also, increasingly, to cooperate with India to confront the challenges of the 21st century, be they global proliferation concerns or trying to complete the Doha Round of global trade negotiations, climate change."
Asked if US looked at a stronger US-India relationship as a good diplomatic counter against China, Blake said: "We are pursuing our relations with India on their own merits."
"We don't put it in the context of our relations with China, which we also greatly value and, of course," he said noting, "China also will be one of the most important powers of the 21st century, and we have our own, separate partnership with China that is extremely important to the United States as well."
"So, we try not to hyphenate those two. I mean, we are pursuing them in their own tracks, and we value both," the official said. "But, we don't try to put our relations with either one of those countries in the context of our relations with the other."