Washington: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's US visit, a conservative American think tank has called on the Obama Administration to not let the international crisis such as in Iraq and Syria overshadow the US-India ties.
"The stage is set for a successful Modi visit to Washington, but the White House must guard against allowing the myriad international crises happening around the globe to overshadow the visit and weaken Indo-US bilateral ties," Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation said.
"Engaging with a strategically like-minded partner such as India takes on greater importance as the US grapples with multiple global challenges. US, India cooperation is particularly important when it comes to countering international terrorism and maintaining a stable balance of power in the Asia Pacific," said the top US expert on South Asia.
During Modi's visit, the US should expand economic and business ties so long as the Indian Prime Minister remains committed to pro-liberalisation agenda, and emphasise on defence cooperation, building on steps announced by Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel during his India visit in August, said Curtis.
"It is important that both sides continue to demonstrate understanding of the strategic context in which each is operating. While BJP leaders may calculate that it is in India's interest to draw closer to the US, they also will point out that India shares a border with China and thus must be cognizant of Chinese perceptions of India's foreign policy," she said.
Curtis said the Obama Administration should coordinate on strategies to counter terrorist movements in South Asia, especially in Afghanistan as US and NATO forces draw down.
"Given al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's recent pledge to launch a South Asia wing and the Islamic State gaining ground in Iraq, the imperative for close US?India counter-terrorism cooperation has never been stronger," she said.
"Obama and Modi must coordinate their responses to these brewing threats and seek ways to cooperate in preventing the Taliban from staging a comeback in Afghanistan," Curtis said.
She said the US should manage expectations on visit outcomes to avoid a sense of disappointment.
"In the past, the relationship has suffered from each side having overly optimistic expectations of what the other side can deliver to solidify ties."
"For this reason, initiatives like the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative aimed at breaking down bureaucratic obstacles to defence cooperation are particularly important, but these initiatives also require patience and persistence and take time to bear fruit," Curtis argued.
According to the top American expert Modi's visit to the US provides an opportunity to strengthen US-India ties, which stagnated during the second term of Modi's predecessor, Manmohan Singh.
"During the visit, President Barack Obama should demonstrate the importance the US attaches to the bilateral relationship and offer cooperation on economic, defence and security issues," she said.
The Obama Administration has at times relegated the relationship with India to a lower category of priority than it merits, but both sides have shown interest in moving beyond negative atmospherics and specific irritants, like the revocation of Modi's US visa and last year's arrest of a US-based Indian diplomat, she noted.
She said the visit of the Indian Prime Minister would be "closely observed" by China and Japan, both of which recently held high-level bilateral interactions with Modi.
"It is important that the Obama, Modi summit demonstrate the strength of US, India ties at a time when the power dynamics in Asia are shifting," Curtis said.