India, US to forge strategic ties during Obama visit

Last Updated: Saturday, October 2, 2010 - 00:01

Washington: India and the United States are looking at establishing a long-term framework of strategic partnership when President Barack Obama visits next month,
National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon has said.

"The visit offers us an opportunity to put into place a longer term framework for India-US strategic partnership, and to add content to that partnership in several areas that are now ripe," Menon said at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace a Washington-based think-tank.

Menon left Washington yesterday after holding intense consultations with top US officials on issues related to the visit of President Obama to India in November.

Among others, he met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his American counterpart Gen (rtd) James Jones.

"Our goal must be to gear our bilateral cooperation towards making our two countries stronger, safer and more prosperous," Menon said, giving the first official indication
of the things to be expected during the Obama visit to India in November.

"India and the US stand at an important moment in our partnership. As a result of consistent efforts by successive governments and administrations in both countries, our
bilateral strategic partnership is strong. The time has come to realize its international significance. President Obama`s visit gives us an opportunity to do so," Menon said.

"One final word to those in our countries who still ask: `Is India a responsible power?` or `Is the US a trustworthy partner?` My answer is an emphatic -- yes.

But the corollary is that we must be sensitive to each other`s vital and important national interests. And we must strengthen the habit of working together, intensifying
strategic consultations," he said.

Menon said "this partnership was based on more than immediate transactional advantage. I do not underestimate the human capacity for folly. But, with common values and a vision of a better world order and shared interests, I am confident
that if we each proceed from our own ideals and interests, we will impart long term stability and an enduring significance to our partnership."

A major area for initiatives is the economy and trade, he noted, adding India today offers a growing market and a partner in improving the international competitiveness of US
companies, creating jobs in both countries.

"I would hope that the visit will result in several concrete initiatives in this area," he said.

"Our priorities do not in any way conflict with those of the USA. We seek a peaceful, secure and stable periphery around us in West, Central and South East Asia, engaging China attempting to build a relationship with Pakistan, contributing to Afghanistan`s reconstruction, and working for good relations with our immediate neighbours," Menon said.

"In today`s international situation, India-US relations are an important factor for world peace, stability and progress. An open, balanced, and inclusive security architecture in Asia and the world would be a goal that is in our common interest. So too would be rules of the road (or codes of conduct) for the global commons, developed internationally through a democratic process of consultation and negotiation," he said.

"These become ever more important as we move to a world where several major powers both compete and cooperate with each other, interdependent due to globalization but still
driven by balance of power considerations," Menon said.

"Traditionally, India and the USA have viewed each other across the Eurasian landmass and the Atlantic Ocean. We get a different perspective if we look across the Pacific,
across a space that we share and that is vital to the security and prosperity of our two countries. Apart from changing geopolitics, the emergence of new transnational and global threats also brings us together," he said.

"For instance, there is much we have in common in disarmament and non-proliferation. We both have a shared vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. We should support
moving step by step to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons, pending their complete elimination," Menon said.

"We both seek to reduce nuclear dangers, whether from terrorists gaining access to nuclear weapons or from nuclear proliferation. It seems to me that we both have a common interest in reforming the institutions of global governance to reflect today`s realities and to make them capable of dealing with today’s challenges," Menon said.

The NSA said Indo-US relationship is the one that is based on shared values and a common quest for a world that reflects those values.

"Those values are pluralism, democracy, rule of law, enterprise, respect for diversity and human rights, tolerance and secularism. Those values lead us to seek an open, rule
based and democratic world order, where each of our citizens is free to achieve their full potential," he said.

"It is the commitment to these values that sometimes also leads to elevated expectations and the higher standards that we hold ourselves and each other to. Indians sometimes
feel that we are held to standards that the US does not always impose on other states.

"Equally, when American friends find Indians preachy, it may be because we expect you to live up to our shared values," Menon said.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, October 2, 2010 - 00:01

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