US Interested in India's Emergence as Regional Power

By Arun Kumar

Washington, Jul 2 (IANS): The United States is interested in India's emergence as a regional power, a senior defence policy official has said, describing India an increasingly important partner to the US.

"The Obama administration is committed to strengthening regional partnerships, to build an international system capable of addressing the challenges that have no respect for borders," Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defence for policy, told members of the Asia Society Thursday.

"In Asia, this means it no longer makes sense to discuss this increasingly interconnected region in terms of East Asian security, or South Asian security," she said.

Noting that the cooperation and collaboration between the United States and India grows out of shared values and shared interests, Flournoy said the relationship between the two nations is maturing

Defence cooperation between the nations served as a catalyst for the increasingly close relationship, and Defence Department officials are working to expand military-to-military ties, she said.

India has become an important economic, political and security partner, and that partnership spans a range of interests, Flournoy told the group.

"Some critics in Washington and New Delhi have suggested the Obama administration is not as committed to US-India relations as its predecessors were," she said.

"Other critics assert that this administration sees India solely through the lens of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Still others think that the absence of high-profile, headline-grabbing deals and accomplishments over the last 18 months suggests that we don't view this relationship as important."

The critics are wrong, she said underlining "The US-India relationship is not built on, and cannot be sustained on, grand gestures or brief moments of crisis."

"This bond is grounded in common democratic values and converging interests that make India and US natural partners. The US and India have an overarching shared interest in promoting global stability and security."

The two nations are maritime countries that depend on free passage of the seas, and India and the United States work together to ensure maritime security, Flournoy said.

Both countries also have an abiding interest in countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other dangerous high technologies, she added.

US-Indian defence relations have evolved from solely military-to-military links into a more comprehensive fabric, Flournoy said, in a relationship that encompasses dialogues, exercises, defence sales and practical cooperation.

"The growth and comprehensiveness of this relationship is nothing short of remarkable, she said. "Now the two countries must sustain and expand upon the gains made to date."



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