By Arun Kumar
Washington, Feb 8 (IANS) A senior Obama administration official has expressed confidence that despite recent setbacks India-US strategic partnership will continue to grow whatever the outcome of India’s upcoming national elections.
“For almost two decades, in both India and the United States, Presidents and Prime Ministers and political parties have come together and worked to overcome old schisms,” US National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice said Friday.
“Piece by piece, we’re establishing a lasting partnership that’s equipped to tackle today’s global challenges,” she said addressing delegates attending the Aspen Institute US-India Dialogue at the Indian ambassador S. Jashankar’s residence.
“And, the United States is confident that, whatever the outcome of India’s upcoming national elections, the cooperation and strategic partnership between our nations will continue to grow,” Rice said.
The dialogue has been convened by the Aspen Strategy Group, a bipartisan US policy forum, in conjunction with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Aspen Ananta Centre to take a broad look at the Indo-US relationship.
President Barack Obama’s key adviser said she was not suggesting “that our relationship doesn’t require work, or that there aren’t real challenges to overcome.”
“Every meaningful partnership between powerful nations encounters setbacks. And, obviously, recent events have drawn more attention to our disagreements than to our cooperative efforts,” Rice said without referring to the Khobragade affair or any other particular incident.
“But, those difficulties should be minor compared to the breadth of our relationship and the magnitude of what we can accomplish together,” she said apparently alluding to the diplomatic spat over the December arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.
“We must also deal with our differences in a constructive manner, commensurate with a relationship of this importance,” Rice said.
“We cannot allow such challenges to derail the future we are working diligently to build a future of greater prosperity, greater security, and consistent adherence to our shared values.”
“As India continues to grow and to take on greater responsibilities on the world stage, we must work even harder to make sure this partnership lives up to its potential,” Rice said highlighting “a few areas where we must keep pushing ourselves-and our partnership-to do more.”
Stressing the “need to expand opportunities for trade and investment,” she expressed “particular concern” over India’s “local content policies” that “end up discouraging investment” and protection of intellectual property rights.
“Concluding a bilateral investment treaty would be a strong step forward, helping to attract more capital to India and benefiting Indians investing in industries across the United States,” Rice said.
India and US “must also keep working together on major global challenges, such as addressing the drivers of climate change that have critical implications for every nation,” Rice said.
“When it comes to promoting regional stability, the United States strongly supports efforts by India and Pakistan to expand their trade and commercial ties,” she said.
“With sustained leadership from both governments, this will not only reap real economic rewards, it will help broaden the base of support for normalization on both sides of the border,” Rice said.
The two countries also “need to strengthen our security cooperation to keep our nations safe and to address global challenges more effectively,” she said.
“India is also essential to America’s broader engagement with Asia, where many of our national interests converge,” Rice said.
The US thus looked “forward to enhancing the ways that India’s Look East policy and America’s rebalance to Asia can be mutually reinforcing.”
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)