Washington: India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership would work more closely with the US on security, terrorism and economic issues despite maintaining an independent foreign policy, a top American spy official has said.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decisive leadership style, combined with the 2014 election of an absolute majority in the lower house of Parliament of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will enable more decisive Indian decision making on domestic and foreign policy," said James R Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, during a Congressional hearing.
"Although India has a long-standing position that it maintain an independent policy, Modi will probably seek to work more closely with the United States on security, terrorism, and economic issues," Clapper said in his testimony on "World Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community" before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
India wants to maintain a stable peace with Pakistan but views Pakistan as a direct terrorism threat and a regional source of instability, he said.
India is concerned about the stability of Afghanistan and its own presence there following the drawdown of international forces and is looking for options to blunt the influence of Pakistan-supported groups and ensure that Afghanistan does not revert to a haven for anti-Indian militants, he added.
"Indian leaders will almost certainly pursue stronger economic ties with China that support the government's economic agenda of closing the trade gap and attracting investment in infrastructure," he said.
"New Delhi's concern over perceived Chinese aggressiveness along the disputed border and in the Indian Ocean is probably growing in light of border incidents and the visit of a Chinese submarine to Sri Lanka in 2014," Clapper said.
Testifying before the same committee, Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said India is in the midst of a major military modernisation effort to address problems with its ageing equipment and to better posture itself to defend against both Pakistan and China.
"New Delhi is working to address impediments to modernisation, such as its cumbersome procurement process, budget constraints, and an inefficient domestic defence industry," he said.