Washington: A top US lawmaker has called on the Obama administration to fortify ties with India as the South Asian nation can act as a potential "counterweight" to China.
The demand comes amidst China's s growing influence in Asia.
"From a strategic perspective India is a potential counterweight to China's growing regional influence in Asia. They've become increasingly vocal on issues like freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean region," Congressman Eliot Engel said during a Congressional hearing on Thursday.
The Congressman from New York voiced his views during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Challenges and Opportunities in Asia.
He said India, which is the world's largest democracy, should become an integral part of America's Asia policy.
"As the world's third largest economy, India has the potential to become a major economic player in East Asia, and is already playing a constructive role in maritime issues," Engel said.
"It's the third largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity and is the largest democracy in the Asia region.
"The US-India relationship is important, it's growing, in particular on the defense side, and Prime Minister Modi will be coming to Washington again in a couple of months to meet with President Obama," Engel added.