India Among 'key centres of influence' in Obama Security Strategy

By Arun Kumar

Washington, May 28 (IANS) Recognising India as one of the "key centres of influence" along with China and Russia, President Barack Obama's new National Security Strategy reaffirms "building a strategic partnership" with India as "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century."

Faced with "the emergence of new challenges and the shortcomings of the international system" the US "must focus American engagement on strengthening international institutions and galvanizing the collective action that can serve common interests," says the strategy unveiled Thursday.

The 52-page document identifies these issues as combating violent extremism; stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials; achieving balanced and sustainable economic growth; and forging cooperative solutions to the threat of climate change, armed conflict, and pandemic disease.

"The starting point for that collective action will be our engagement with other countries," it says "so that we can cooperate on issues of bilateral and global concern, with the recognition that power, in an interconnected world, is no longer a zero sum game."

The cornerstone of this engagement is the relationship between the United States and its "close friends and allies in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East-ties which are rooted in shared interests and shared values, and which serve our mutual security and the broader security and prosperity of the world."

"We are working to build deeper and more effective partnerships with other key centres of influence - including China, India, and Russia, as well as increasingly influential nations such as Brazil, South Africa, and Indonesia," says the strategy.

Explaining the strategy at the Brookings Institute, a Washington think tank, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "deepening our engagement with key countries like Russia, China, India and others gives us a better understanding and also to our counterparts."

The upcoming strategic dialogue with India "is the first time ever we've had a ministerial strategic dialogue," she said noting "there have been interactions, of course, at many levels."

"But we want to develop connections not only between high-ranking diplomats, but also between people working on higher education, people working on clean water, people working on women's empowerment. And that is exactly what we intend to do."

Obama's National Security Advisor General James L. Jones too pointed to the strategy's focus on "expanding cooperation with 21st century centres of influence such as Russia, with which we have reset relations.

"India, with which our growing relationship will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. And China, with which we have forged a Strategic and Economic Dialogue to advance mutual interest on areas such as global economic recovery and non-proliferation," he said at a briefing for the foreign media.

Jones said the strategy "embraces the 21st century power dynamics and the first deliberate strategy for building constructive ties with emerging centres of influence, including by elevating the role of the G-20, including India, as the focal point for international economic cooperation.

"The US and India launched a Strategic Dialogue to build a broad-based and multi-layered Strategic Partnership that will strengthen bilateral ties," the strategy notes.

The two countries also completed negotiations last year on an agreement to govern the reprocessing of US-origin spent nuclear fuel.

"Efforts have intensified and been formalised regarding counter-terrorism cooperation to enhance the security of both our countries, especially after the tragic Mumbai attack."

"The US-India CEOs Forum was revived and expanded to bolster business investment and ties in both countries and together we launched a Green Partnership to strengthen US-India cooperation on clean energy, climate change, and food security."


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