Ties with 'Responsible Global Power' India, Top Priority: Obama

By Arun Kumar

Washington, June 4 (IANS) Calling US-India relations as "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century", US President Barack Obama said he plans to visit India in early November to together make "history and progress that will be treasured by generations to come".

"Our relations with India are at the highest of priorities for my administration and for me personally as president of the United States," Obama said at a reception Thursday at the State Department hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna after the inaugural US-India Strategic Dialogue.

"When it comes to building a future of greater prosperity, opportunity and security for people there is no doubt I have to go to India, but even more I am proud to go to India," he said.

"And I look forward to the history that we will make together, the progress that will be treasured not only by this generation, but by future generations to come."

The rare gesture of attending a reception at the State department was seen as a way to ease India's concerns that the US views ties with New Delhi through the lens of the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan or through the prism of a rising China.

Obama called India "a responsible global power" and said the "unprecedented" US-India relationship "will be a defining partnership of the 21st century" that will help shape the future of the world on issues such as the economy and security.

"We value our partnership... because of what we share and where we can go together," he said, adding that the two countries share a vision of the future built on "security and prosperity".

Krishna too stressed the importance of the US-India relationship saying India can be a "dependable anchor of the region's growth".

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had visited the White House on Obama presidency's first state visit in November 2009, Krishna said, had "asked me to reiterate the importance he attaches to this strategic dialogue".

"There are few relationships in the world that have so much potential as India-US relations, because, I believe, that our cooperation is not only for great mutual benefit, but is destined to have a strong impact on global peace, prosperity and stability in the 21st century," Krishna said.

The US, Obama said, values India not merely for its crucial geographic position in South Asia but because of the deep social, political and strategic values the countries share. "India is indispensable to the future that we seek," he said.

Earlier at a joint press conference with Krishna, Clinton echoing Obama's words about India as an indispensable partner said: "We believe that a rising India is good for the United States and good for the world."

"Our two nations, great democracies, dynamic and interconnected economies and engines of progress, understand that our fortunes in this new century are increasingly linked," she said.

"Our people are more connected today than ever before, and we face complex global challenges that will be difficult to solve without the United States and India working together," she said.

Noting that both India and the US have experienced violent extremists, Clinton said she and Krishna discussed the importance of India's leadership to promoting security, stability and prosperity across Asia and beyond. "Security is more than a priority, it's an imperative," she said.

Krishna said they had agreed that terrorist groups operate as a syndicate, leveraging each other's assets and strength, and are increasingly converging together on motivation and targets. "Hence, a segmented approach towards terrorism, especially in our neighbourhood, would not succeed."

India was pleased with the way the counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries has progressed and that they have agreed to intensify it further, he said.

On Afghanistan, Krishna said India and the US have a shared convergent goal of a stable, peaceful, pluralistic and democratic Afghanistan, which protects the rights and the dignity of all sections of Afghan society. "India and the United States are partners in achieving these goals."


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