'No debate on India's imp in US foreign policy'
Charlotte (North Carolina): Reflecting a consensus in American political set up on India, a top foreign policy advisor to the Obama Campaign asserted that there is "no debate" in the US on how important the country is in its foreign policy.
"Frankly, that there is no debate about how important India is in American foreign policy going forward for very strong reasons of shared interests, but also shared values and commitment to democracy," Michele Flournoy, Obama For America Advisor said.
Flournoy, who served the Obama Administration as Under Secretary of Defence for Policy for two years, said that the US President Barack Obama has talked about the strategic partnership with India.
"As India rises into a greater place of influence in South Asia and in the region more broadly, the United States welcomes that.
"India has been an important partner for us economically, diplomatically, and militarily," she said in response to a question.
"When the President had to make his choice about who would be the first world leader to invite to the White House for an official state dinner, he extended the invitation to Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh," Flournoy said.
Her remarks to foreign journalists on the sidelines of the Democratic National Convention here came hours before the convention delegates adopted the party's platform which called for greater relationship with India.
"We will continue to invest in a long-term strategic partnership with India to support its ability to serve as a regional economic anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region," says the 40 page Platform, which the Democratic Party says is part of the effort of the Obama Administration to shape the future of the Asia-Pacific region.
Last week, the Republican party at its convention in Tampa, Florida passed its platform which declared India as a geopolitical ally and a strategic trading partner.
"We welcome a stronger relationship with the world's largest democracy, India, both economic and cultural, as well as in terms of national security.
"We hereby affirm and declare that India is our geopolitical ally and a strategic trading partner," the Republican platform said.
"We encourage India to permit greater foreign investment and trade. We urge protection for adherents of all India's religions.
"Both as Republicans and as Americans, we note with pride the contributions to this country that are being made by our fellow citizens of Indian ancestry," the platform of the Republican party said.
Responding to questions on Pakistan, Flournoy said that the US values Pakistan as a strategic partner, particularly in counterterrorism.
"Pakistan has made enormous sacrifices over the years in its fight alongside us against terrorists like al Qaeda," she said.
"We have had some ups and downs in the relationship, frankly, but I think both sides are very determined at this point to reinvest and to expand areas of cooperation particularly focused on the common enemy that we both have to deal with in al Qaeda and its affiliates in the region," Flournoy said.