I back India’s rise as global power but UNSC seat difficult: Obama

Though Prez Obama described India as a "cornerstone" of US engagement in Asia, but refused to assure UNSC seat.

Washington: Ahead of his visit, President
Barack Obama today described India as a "cornerstone" of US
engagement in Asia, but held out no assurances on key issues
--support for India`s permanent membership of the UN Security
Council and ending curbs on export of dual-use technology.

Outlining the objectives of his three-day maiden trip
beginning Saturday, Obama said that building "a true strategic
partnership" with India had been one of his "highest foreign
policy priorities" since he assumed office in January last
year.

The visit would give him an opportunity to work with
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bring Indo-US cooperation on
a broad range of issues "to a new level", he told PTI.

The Indo-US partnership "is based on both our shared
values and our shared interests, and for these reasons, I
welcome and support India`s rise as a global power", the
President said.

India`s rise "is in the best interests of both the
countries (India and the US), of the region and the world", he
said.

The President answered a wide range of questions
covering contentious issues like US curbs on export of
dual-use technology items, outsourcing, UNSC membership and
Pakistan`s failure to take action against perpetrators of
26/11 attacks.

Asked about the possibility of his announcing lifting of
curbs on export of dual-use technology items and more concrete
support for India`s permanent membership of UNSC, Obama
described the two issues as "very difficult and complicated".

"Our teams continue to work hard to reach an agreement
that strengthens the international non-proliferation system
while treating India in a manner that is consistent with our
strategic partnership," he said in a reference to export
restrictions that cover items which have both peaceful and
military usage.

Without committing himself to a firmer support for
India`s bid for permanent seat in UNSC, Obama said, "I do also
expect to discuss India`s role as an actor on the global stage
during my visit."

When told that there did not seem to be any "big ticket
items" on the agenda, Obama responded, "I do not want to
pre-empt the announcements that the Prime Minister and I will
make while I am in India.

"I think you can expect a series of announcements on how
we are going to deepen and broaden our cooperation on a range
of things that will have a direct and very positive impact on
millions of people both in India and the United States.

"There will be big items on the agenda, and -- just as
importantly -- I believe that we will build an even stronger
foundation for the US-India partnership going forward."

The President went on to emphasise that Indo-US
relationship "now goes well beyond any one particular issue".

He said, "if you look at the breadth of everything we are
working on now -- from economic engagement to counter
terrorism and security cooperation, from clean energy to
development .. it goes well beyond the type of cooperation
that we pursued just a few years ago."

All this indicated "the enormously positive trajectory
of US-India relations", Obama said.

Outlining his vision of the relationship between the
two countries, the President said, "my vision is a US-India
partnership in which we work together to shape a more secure,
stable, and just world.

"My visit gives me an opportunity to experience first
hand your fascinating country, discuss issues of mutual
concern with my friend Prime Minister Singh, and work with him
to bring our cooperation on a broad range of issues to a new
level.

"It is also important that I am visiting India as the
first stop on a major trip to Asia, as I see India as a
cornerstone of America`s engagement in Asia, just as it is
fundamental to our engagement in multilateral forums like the
G-20.

"To me, the US and India share an indispensable
partnership, one that has benefits for both our countries and
the world."

Obama was asked about reports that the US companies were
unhappy with some of the provisions of the Nuclear Liability
Act passed recently by Indian Parliament to enable the country
to engage in nuclear commerce, and whether he would press New
Delhi to review it.

He replied, "I have a deep respect for India`s democratic
process and I also continue to encourage the Indian government
to provide domestic and international suppliers the
opportunity to help India meet its ambitious nuclear power
generation needs.

"I believe that Indian officials are aware of our
concerns over the law that was recently passed by the Indian
Parliament. These concerns are shared by many others,
including some Indian officials and representatives of Indian
industry.

"The important thing is that our governments are working
together to discuss these concerns and resolve them. That is a
demonstration of the strength of our partnership ... how
discussing our concerns brings us closer, instead of driving
us apart."

-PTI