Obama elevated dialogue with ’emerging global power’ India

Washington, May 27 (IANS) The US says the Obama administration felt it important to elevate its dialogue with New Delhi as India is a ‘a great and emerging global power’ with which the US has a significant range of interests.

‘I think the strategic dialogue speaks for itself,’ State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley told reporters Wednesday when asked to give a sense of US-India relations in the first 17 months of Obama Administration.

‘India is a great and emerging global power. Our range of interests are significant in terms of the environment, in terms of regional security, in terms of counterterrorism, economic issues,’ he said.

‘We have very strong cultural ties to India, so we look forward to the strategic dialogue,’ he said referring to the June 3-4 inaugural India-US strategic dialogue led by Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

‘It’s something that the Secretary and the President (Barack Obama) felt important to elevate the level of our coordination and cooperation,’ he said. ‘So we look forward to the dialogue.

‘I think our relations with India have never been stronger. We are talking about the relations between the largest and oldest democracies in the world. We have a great deal in common and we look forward to the meetings next week,’ Crowley added.

Asked about a report that Pakistan has asked for US help in bridging the trust deficit with India, the US official said trust deficit was essentially a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, but US will continue to encourage both of its ‘friends’ to enhance their dialogue and cooperation.

‘Well, the trust deficit, as it’s been called, between India and Pakistan is most significantly a bilateral issue between Pakistan and India,’ he said.

The US, Crowley said, had ‘encouraged both Pakistan and India to enhance its dialogue in a cooperation’ as it was ‘friends with both countries’ and has ‘strong and strengthening relationships’ with both.

‘We are gratified that both countries seem to be moving in a direction that – to see that dialogue become deeper. So we will continue to encourage both countries to pursue the commitments that both have made and pledged publicly.’

Asked what role the US had played in India banning over 100 terrorist organizations and Pakistan arresting an army major in connection with the failed Times Square bombing, Crowley said: ‘First of all, these were steps taken by India and Pakistan.’

Security and counterterrorism were an ingredient of its dialogue in the US relationship with both countries, Crowley said describing it as ‘a shared challenge that the United States, India, Pakistan, other countries have.

‘It’s a global challenge. So we welcome the efforts of these countries to try to reduce the threat not only within the region, but more broadly.’

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])