Wednesday, June 02, 2010
WASHINGTON: The United States will try to reassure India that it remains at the top of its priority list as the two countries hold talks Wednesday on stepping up cooperation around the world.
President Barack Obama has voiced support for warming ties between the world's two largest democracies, raising alarm in India about the flow of US resources to its historic rival.
Senior US official William Burns acknowledged that some Indians worried the United States saw India through the prism of ties with Pakistan or cared less about New Delhi than the other rising Asian power, China.
"Let me speak plainly to those concerns -- this administration has been, and will remain, deeply committed to supporting India's rise and to building the strongest possible partnership between us," said Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs.
Burns said a strong India was "in the strategic interest of the United States," with the two countries in agreement on global issues ranging from promoting democracy to reducing poverty.
"Never has there been a moment when partnership between India and America mattered more to the rest of the globe," he said.
Burns, the top US career diplomat, will hold talks with his Indian counterpart, Foreign Secretary . The two-day meetings will expand Thursday to include Secretary of State and Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash, previewing the talks, said the two countries shared a "common objective of promoting peace, stability and economic development in the region and beyond."
The Obama administration has increasingly turned to "strategic dialogues" of this sort to show its commitment to broadening relationships with key nations.
The United States held such talks with Pakistan in March, hoping to dent the country's rampant anti-Americanism by showing that Washington was interested in ties beyond just cooperation on its war against the Taliban and its Al-Qaeda allies in Afghanistan and the lawless border region with Pakistan.
One-upping that dialogue, Obama himself will attend the reception Thursday for the talks with India. He also plans to pay his first presidential visit to India later this year.
The United States approved a 7.5-billion-dollar package last year for Pakistan to build infrastructure and democratic institutions. Washington has also praised what it sees as Islamabad's growing determination to fight Taliban insurgents.