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Ahead of Obama`s visit, US says India indispensable partner

On the eve of President Barack Obama`s visit to India, the US said India is an indispensable partner rising on global.

Updated: Nov 05, 2010, 18:42 PM IST

Washington: On the eve of President Barack
Obama`s visit to India, the US said India is an indispensable
partner rising on global stage and that lifting restrictions
on export control of high technology items and counter-
terrorism measures were on the agenda during summit talks.

The White House also said that it supports and encourages
both India and Pakistan to resolve their bilateral issues
directly, noting that Islamabad has nothing to fear from
Washington`s growing ties with New Delhi.
The White House assessment of Indo-US issues was given by
National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer during a
digital video-press conference with foreign journalists in New
York and Washington ahead of Obama`s departure. Obama is due
to hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi
on Monday.

Hammer said lifting of restrictions on exports of dual
use items is something that will come up in the course of
Obama`s visit to India.

"I don`t, again, want to get ahead of ourselves in terms
of any potential announcements, but it is complicated, and
we`re working through it," he added.

The White House official was responding to questions
about the statement given by Commerce Secretary Gary Lock
that significant announcement is expected on export controls
during the President`s visit.

Obama too in an interview to the PTI had said these are
very difficult and complicated issues.

Hammer said ”in terms of how Pakistan should view the
visit to India, the United States does enjoy very positive and
fruitful relations with both countries, with both India and
Pakistan. And one is not at the expense of the other."

He was responding to a question how Islamabad views
Obama`s visit to India.

"I think both countries benefit from American engagement
in the region, trying to promote greater economic growth, to
see that these democracies -- both of them -- need to continue
to flourish," he said.
"In the case of India, we have a strategic partnership
which we`re trying to develop. It`s an indispensable partner,
one that we recognize is rising on the global stage, one that
we want to embrace, because we think that together with India,
as we have historically with others with our European partners
-- there are many things we can do together that advance both
our countries` interests and also that provide for others,"
Hammer said.

"I think that what you`ll see on this trip is a
manifestation of some of these ideas. I don`t want to get
ahead of ourselves in terms of making any announcements. I`ll
leave that to the President. But clearly we will be working
very closely in the future on that," Hammer said.

In the wake of reports that the US did not convey
critical information on Mumbai attack plotter David Headley to
India, Hammer underlined that improving counter-terrorism
cooperation was on Obama`s agenda.

"I can assure you that strengthening counter-terrorism
cooperation will be on the agenda," Hammer said.

"The president will have an event that will focus on
this as soon as he arrives at the Taj hotel. On the Headley
case," he added, "we shared information relating to terrorist
threats as we had them at the time."

Even though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not
be accompanying Obama on Air Force One, in a break from the
past tradition, which officials said is mainly due to
scheduling conflict, several members of his cabinet would
accompany Obama who will also be joined by his wife Michelle.

Prominent among those accompanying the US President
would include Tom Donilon, the new National Security Advisor,
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Agriculture Secretary,
Tom Vilsack and Raj Shah, Administrator of USAID.
According to a White House press advisory, the
Presidential aircraft would stop at Ramstein in Germany for
refuelling. His scheduled arrival in Mumbai is 12.50 pm on
Saturday. Obama would also travel to Indonesia, South Korea
and Japan.

Hammer also welcomed the recent Indian decision to sign
the Convention on Supplementary Compensation.

"We do see that as a positive step. It`s something
that`s continuing to be worked and that the American companies
are addressing, themselves. I`m sure it`ll be something that
we`ll be discussing in the course of the trip," he said.