An influential American Senator, known as the best friend of India in the US Senate, on Sunday apologised for "mistakenly" calling India instead of China a security threat to the United States.
While defending the need to continue with F-22 programme, now being closed down by Obama Administration, Senator John Cornyn said in an interview that the US needs these fighter jets for protecting itself from increasing national security threats from countries like North Korea, Iran and India.
Cornyn is founder and Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus and had played a key role in the passage of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal. He has been one of the prime supporter of deepening of strategic ties between India and the US.
"It's important to our national security because we're not just fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq... we have graver threats and greater threats than that, from a rising India, with increased exercise of their military power; Russia, Iran, that's threatening to build a nuclear weapon; with North Korea, shooting intercontinental ballistic missiles, capable of hitting American soil," he said.
"Senator Cornyn regrets the mistake and apologises for any misunderstanding this may have caused," Kevin McLaughlin, spokesperson for Cornyn, said in a statement after the issue was brought to the notice of the media by an Indian American.
"Senator Cornyn misspoke saying 'India' when he meant to say 'China.' As Founder and Co-chairman of the Senate India Caucus, no Senator has greater respect or admiration for India or values our relationship with them more," McLaughlin said.
"I know senator Cornyn. He is a friend of India and Indian American community. He considers India a strong ally of United States. There is no other senator in US senate who supports India more than senator Cornyn does," said Ashok Mago, chairman of US India Forum.
"He is the Senator who initiated and successfully established friends of India caucus in the senate. He spear headed the support for the civil nuclear and was first to be co-sponsor of the bill," Mago said.
As Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, Cornyn is hosting a reception for new Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar at the Capitol Hill next week. This is for the first time that Senators are giving reception to an Indian Ambassador.