An influential American senator, who played a key role in getting the India-US civilian nuclear deal passed, has apologised for 'mistakenly' suggesting 'a rising' India posed a 'graver and greater' security threat than that in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Defending the need to continue the F-22 programme, shot down by the Senate at the behest of President Barack Obama, Senator John Cornyn said in a published interview that the US needed these fighter jets for protecting itself from increasing national security threats from countries such as North Korea, Iran and India.
Cornyn, founder co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, is known as India's best friend in the Senate and has been one of the prime supporters 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 was quoted as saying.
Cornyn apologised after it was brought to the notice of the media by an Indian American.
"Senator Cornyn regrets the mistake and apologises for any misunderstanding this may have caused," Kevin McLaughlin, his spokesperson, said in a statement.
"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.