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'Manmohan Singh's US visit is rich with symbolism'

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's upcoming state visit to the US would be reinforcement of America's friendship with India, a noted US analyst said, adding the trip will be a test of India's willingness to follow through with acquisitions of civilian nuclear technology and "to agree to a test ban".

world Updated: Oct 14, 2009 14:32 IST

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's upcoming state visit to the US would be reinforcement of America's friendship with India, a noted US analyst said, adding the trip will be a test of India's willingness to follow through with acquisitions of civilian nuclear technology and "to agree to a test ban".

"The first state visit under the Obama administration is rich with symbolism," said Douglas H. Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

He noted, "It will solidify the US-Indian relationship under a Democratic president."

Suggesting that Obama administration has many officials who were sceptical of the India-US civil nuclear deal, Paal said: "The visit will be a test of India's willingness to follow through with concrete acquisitions of civilian nuclear technology, and to agree to a test ban."

Manmohan Singh is scheduled to visit the US Nov 24.

The Obama administration early on learned to de-hyphenate India and Pakistan, he said, adding "The challenges facing Pakistan's survival from within are driving relations there and are of a more urgent nature than the slowly but steadily developing relationship with India."

For Americans and Europeans, the terrorist origins in Pakistan are as alarming as they are to Indians, Paal said in an interview with Mumbai's Daily News and Analysis. The transcript was posted on the Carnegie website.

Asked if US policymakers would be disappointed when they realise India won't be a lieutenant for US interests, he said: "US officials understand well, perhaps better than some in the Bush administration that India is pursuing improvements in its external circumstances along every azimuth."

"Our relationship is important, and increasingly so, but it is not exclusive in either direction. Both nations are pursuing their interests with a cool eye and a sense of balance. This is a healthy basis for long-term cooperation where our interests coincide," Paal said.

Asked if India underestimates how much Washington depends on it as a 'natural ally', he said: "We and India share concerns about the terrorist threats we face. We have a common interest in globalisation occurring in an orderly fashion and a host of other issues. In those efforts, our allied efforts will be critical."