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India is a 'strategic partner' for US: Rice

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is looking forward to working closely with the new Indian foreign minister.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2006 18:00 IST

As Washington considers India "a very important partner for the United States", Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice looks forward to work closely with the new Indian foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee.

"We are in the course of changing that relationship and deepening and broadening our ties. So I'm sure she's going to work very closely with him and looks forward to working with him on a number of different issues of mutual concern," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Tuesday.

"I'm sure that she's going to work quite well with him," he said noting that Mukherjee and Rice met together at the United Nations recently when he came here as defence minister.

"He's a very accomplished individual. He brings with him a lot of experience to the job as foreign minister operating on a world stage," McCormack said.

He parried a question about the US stand on next week's resumption of stalled India-Pakistan talks and the Kashmir issue with a non-committal "We'll see if there's anything we can get for you on that."

In reply to another question about whether Pakistan's visiting human rights chairperson had raised the issue of suppression of the people of Sindh and Balochistan by President Pervez Musharraf's government, McCormack said, "I can't tell you about the meeting."

"But in terms of human rights, it doesn't matter, religion, ethnic background, nationality, we believe respect for human rights is a very important - very important for any government.

"They are universal rights that we believe all human beings have a right to and deserve, and we speak out in favour of those regardless of what country it happens to be. And it's an important component of any bilateral relationship we have," he said.

First Published: Nov 08, 2006 12:56 IST