Three days ahead of his visit to India, President Barack Obama on Wednesday described India as a “cornerstone” of US engagement in Asia, but held out no assurances on prickly issues — support for permanent membership to the UN Security Council for India or ending curbs on export of dual use technology.
However, he said that building “a true strategic partnership” with India has been one of his “highest foreign policy priorities” since he assumed office in January 2009.
The visit would give him an opportunity to work with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bring India-US cooperation “to a new level”, he told PTI. “I welcome and support India’s rise as a global power,” he said.
Asked about the possibility of his announcing the lifting of curbs on export of dual use technology items and more concrete support for India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UNSC, Obama described the two issues as “difficult and complicated”.
“Our teams continue to work hard to reach an agreement that strengthens the international non-proliferation system while treating India in a manner consistent with our strategic partnership,” he said in a reference to export of dual use items.
Without committing himself to firmer support for India’s UNSC bid, Obama said, “I do also expect to discuss India’s role as an actor on the global stage.”
But there is hope. When told there did not seem to be any “big ticket items” on the agenda, he responded, “I don’t want to pre-empt the announcements the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) and I will make while I’m in India.”
Obama also indicated he was unlikely to accommodate India’s concerns on his policy of discouraging outsourcing of US jobs.
“I have a responsibility to support jobs and opportunity for the American people. I believe the US-India economic relationship can and should be a ‘win-win’ relationship for both of our countries.”
On the 26/11 attack, he said: “We have told the Pakistani government they have an international responsibility to cooperate to bring the perpetrators to justice.”