India is an indispensable ally: US

The United States has said that India is its indispensable ally.

Updated: May 29, 2010, 11:59 AM IST

Washington: The United States, which recently concluded its strategic dialogues with Pakistan and China, has said that India is its indispensable ally and will be one of the defining partnerships for America in the 21st century.

"President (Barack) Obama has called India an indispensable partner and has said that India will be one of the defining partnerships for the United States in the
21st century.

India matters to the United States because it`s the world`s largest democracy," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said.

"It has the world`s second fastest growing economy and an economy that is a very important source for -- of exports for United States companies, and also because it is an
increasingly important partner for the United States in addressing common global concerns.

In just 10 years, we`ve had a complete transformation in our bilateral relations and a transformation that enjoys bipartisan support both in India and the United States," Blake
told reporters ahead of the first Cabinet-level Strategic Dialogue between the two countries.

"Perhaps most importantly, we see tremendous potential for growth in our relations with India.

That`s why President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to elevate our relations with India by establishing a strategic dialogue to be led by Secretary Clinton and her counterpart, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna," he said.

Clinton had announced this dialogue last summer on her trip to India, following which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was invited by Obama to be this Administration`s first state visit in November, again, to reaffirm the importance that the US attach to its relations with India, Blake said.

Strongly refuting reports that the Obama administration is not very much focused on India, Blake said the US attaches great importance to our relations with India as President Obama himself has said, this will be one of America`s signature partnerships in the 21st century.

"That was shown by the President`s decision to invite Prime Minister Singh. It`s shown by the huge number of dialogues that we have.

It`s shown even more by the huge private sector component to our relations and all of the people-to-people contacts that we have.

If anything, in our case, it`s the governments which are catching up to the people in terms of all of the many, many ties that exist at so many levels of our two countries," Blake said.

Referring to the National Security Strategy released by the White House on Thursday, Blake said that India and the US are cooperating in every area which has been by this
document as a priority for the United States.

US not frustrated on nuke-deal issue

The US has said it is not frustrated on the delay in the implementation of the civilian
nuclear deal with India in terms of the passage of the nuclear liability bill in that country as it understands that such things move at its own pace in a democracy.

"We are not frustrated. We trust Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s judgment on this nuclear liability bill.

Our main interest is in making sure that the legislation that is passed is compliant with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation, which is the international standard for such legislation," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said.

Blake asserted he does not think that the passage of the civilian nuclear deal is taking long.

"India is a democracy and, like our own democracy, they have to work a bill through -- first through their own cabinet system and then they have get a consensus within their
own parliamentary system on this very, very important bill," he said.

"It has some political resonance in India because of the Bhopal disaster. So people obviously look at this very closely and they should. It deserves that kind of scrutiny,"
Blake said, coming out in strong defence of the political process in India related to the bill.

Not appropriate time to discuss Kashmir

The US has said that this is not the appropriate moment for India and Pakistan to hold
discussions on the Kashmir issue as they need to go for confidence building measures first.

"I think that`s not going to be an issue that`s going to be addressed right away," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said in response to a question at a special news conference on India yesterday.

Blake emphasised that it was for India and Pakistan to take a call on it, but felt that it would be better for the two countries go for confidence building measures first.

"I think, again, that what`s most important is first to get these talks going again and to focus on -- once they`ve gotten beyond the immediate counter-terrorism issues, to focus
on some of the important opportunities like trade that exist between these two countries," Blake said.

"Once they have developed a degree of confidence, they might then be able to take up some of these more sensitive territorial issues," Blake said.

Headley not a sticking point

A top Obama Administration`s official has denied that Mumbai terror attacks suspect David Coleman Headley of late has emerged as a sticking point of relationship between India and the US.

"I don`t think it`s a sticking point. I think that we`ve got a good dialogue and I think we`ll work out a way forward," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake told reporters at a news conference yesterday.

"We are very pleased that the United States and
India have been able to cooperate very closely on this
critical and very complex issue.

`Indian cooperation required’

It is unthinkable of a global challenge that doesn`t require Indian cooperation, Under
Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J Burns, who just returned from New Delhi where he had a firsthand experience of the country`s growth, has said.

In a blog `An Indispensable US Partnership With the World`s Largest Democracy` posted on the website of the State Department yesterday, Burns said he can`t think of a global
challenge today that doesn`t require Indian cooperation -- climate change, counter-terrorism, international economic stability, nuclear nonproliferation, economic growth and the list goes on.

"I had good discussions on all these issues while in
Delhi. Not only do our countries share the same democratic
values, but our leaders also share the same vision in shaping
the 21st century.

It wasn`t a coincidence that President Obama invited
Prime Minister Singh for the first State visit of his
presidency last November, and the President will further
advance our bilateral cooperation when he visits India later
this year," Burns wrote.

Burns who was in New Delhi to hold talks with his
Indian counterparts on May 24, said everywhere, he saw signs
of India`s dynamism.