Ties with India to matter in 21st century: US

Washington, Nov 19 (Inditop.com) Describing India as a rising global power, a top US official has said “few relationships will matter more to the course of human events in the 21st century than the partnership between India and the United States”.

“India, as all of you know very well, is a rising global power, soon to be the world’s most populous country, with a trillion dollar-plus economy,” said Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns Wednesday ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s state visit next week.

“It is no coincidence that the first state visit in the Obama presidency will come from India, and Prime Minister Singh will arrive in Washington next week at a moment of great opportunity,” he said in a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank.

“Few relationships around the world matter more to our collective future, or hold greater promise for constructive action on the challenges that matter most to all of us, than the partnership between the United States and India,” Burns said.

Noting that the bilateral ties between the two countries had ‘come a long way’, he said: “Today there are close to three million Indian-Americans in the United States, who serve as a critical bridge between our countries.

“More than 100,000 Indian students attend schools and universities in the US each year, more than from any other country. Our Embassy and consulates in India issue over 50 percent of all specialised employee visas in the world,” he said.

“Our private sectors are linked by steadily mounting trade flows, which have doubled since 2004 and now exceed $43 billion each year,” he said.

Taking note of how India and the US were helping each other in the fight against terrorism, Burns said: “Over the past year our two countries have developed new mechanisms to improve the sharing of information that have helped prevent attacks and protect both our peoples.”

Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s visit to Washington last September further strengthened “our collaboration in these areas and laid the initial groundwork for what we hope will become an enduring US-India partnership in counter-terrorism”, he said.

Noting that Afghanistan presents another challenge and the two countries will continue to work together there, Burns said as the discussion on the new Afghan policy draws to a conclusion, “we would continue to actively consult India as a critical partner in achieving lasting peace”.

“We welcome India’s significant and positive role in Afghanistan, including the provision of over $1.2 billion in reconstruction assistance.”

Ruling out any mediation in the India-Pakistan peace process, Burns said: “Of course, we all share an interest in stability and peace between India and Pakistan. We all know the stakes. America has always supported the two countries’ peace process and the resolution of outstanding disputes through dialogue.”

“There is also significant potential in our relationship for expanded defence cooperation. As India modernises its military, American equipment and technology can and should be a part of that modernisation. The recent conclusion of an End-Use Monitoring accord gives us important momentum to enhance our security relationship.”

On the contentious issue of nuclear non-proliferation, he said: “Nuclear non-proliferation is a very high priority for President Obama, and we look to India as a full partner in efforts to strengthen the non-proliferation regime and prevent the further spread of weapons of mass destruction.”