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US, India natural allies: Obama

world Updated: Jan 29, 2009 23:19 IST

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President Barack Obama looks at United States and India as “natural allies” and is keen to strengthen and deepen their ties built over the years. “Without getting into a lot of specifics, I think that the President believes that, obviously, the US and India are natural friends and natural allies,” Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters at the White House.

“The President looks forward over the course of this term to strength and deepen the partnership that’s been built between the two countries over these past many years, to strengthen those ties,” he said. Gibbs said White House would have more to say about building relationship between the two countries in the future. Obama also wished Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a speedy recovery after his recent surgery.

As it focuses on Pakistan and Afghanistan, the White House has for some reason chosen not to unveil the new administration’s India policy, but a couple of statements so far do point towards a continuation of former President George Bush’s policy to shape India-US ties into a “strategic partnership”.

On its Republic Day, Obama was quick to greet India with a message that the Indian people “should know that they have no better friend and partner than the people of the US”.

‘Difficult decisions’ on Iraq, Afghan ahead’

Obama said he had “difficult decisions” to make on Iraq and Afghanistan after his first meeting as commander-in-chief at the Pentagon with military brass.

But no decision were made at the more than 90-minute session with the military chiefs, officials said, and Obama gave no clue whether he intends to stick with a 16 month timetable for the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq. “We’re going to have some difficult decisions, we’re going to have to make surrounding Iraq, and Afghanistan most immediately,” he said, speaking with the heads of joint chiefs of staff and military services.