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Indo-US ties to focus on defence, terrorism

Expanding cooperation with India in these fields will be the next two big thrust areas in bilateral ties, says Burns.

world Updated: May 24, 2007 19:01 IST
Sridhar Krishnaswami
Sridhar Krishnaswami

The United States has said expanding cooperation with India in the field of defence and counter-terrorism will be the next two big thrust areas in bilateral relations in the future.

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns also said that the positive history of the 21st century will be written in large part by Indians and Americans together for the growth of democracy, free-market economies, and peace in Asia and around the world.

"When the history of our time in office is written," Burns said "I am confident the great strategic leap forward in cementing the US-India strategic partnership will count among the most important accomplishments of Presidents (George W) Bush and (Bill) Clinton with Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh and his predecessors".

Speaking at The Heritage Foundation on the United States-India Relations on Wednesday, the senior State Department official stressed not only the kind of distances that have been traversed in the last several months over and beyond the civilian nuclear initiative but also in looking at what is in store down the road for the bilateral relationship.

The Bush administration has identified expanding defence relations and counter-terrorism cooperation as the "next two big" security initiatives, the senior official said adding the growing military cooperation is becoming one of the most visible aspects of our bilateral ties.

"The 2005 Defense Framework is symbolic of a new era in closer military cooperation and sets forth a joint vision. The Agreement reflects the increasing frequency, size, and complexity of military exercises between the Indian military and the United States.

"The presence of 42 US defence firms in India during the Aero India show in Bangalore in February is evidence of our companies' willingness to invest in long-term relationships with Indian counterparts. The possibility of increased defence trade makes this a bright spot for future development," Burns said.

American firms, he said, do not want to be merely suppliers to the Indian military, but are interested in becoming long-term partners during the modernisation and development of India's defence industry.

On the issue of terrorism, he said "we are working together to combat the global scourge of terrorism....India and the US have many lessons learned to share with each other to confront this mutual threat.

"We have agreed to closer cooperation on terrorist financing, law enforcement, aviation security, and information sharing, as well as combating weapons of mass destruction terrorism and bio-terrorism," Burns said.

Noting that India and the US are a victim of terrorism, he said "we extend our condolences to the people of Hyderabad, who suffered in last Friday's attack on the beautiful Mecca Masjid, which I visited last December. The US intends to strengthen its commitment to India to be a good partner in combating terrorist threats".

The senior administration official also said that the the US and India have an extraordinarily promising shared future.

"The multidimensional nature of our relationship, its range, and its depth all ensure that our ties will be enduring. With our shared future unbound, I am confident that we will be able to achieve the ambitious goals we have set out for our partnership," the top administration official said.

Burns said bilateral ties for the future will be moving in three principal areas of education, regional cooperation and security."We believe that education, especially higher education and research, is a key element in our bilateral and multilateral relationships.

"India's emergence as a global power brings with it commensurate responsibility as a leader not only on regional issues but also on global ones such as promoting democracy and protecting the environment," he said.

The senior administration official noted that the American and Indian people are witnessing an explosion of ties in culture, the arts, technology, and business.

For the last three years, India has sent more students to the US than any other country, even China. There are over 76,000 Indian students in the US this year.

"This will pay dividends for decades to come, as the ties these students create here in America will create lasting bonds between our countries," Burns said.

The top administration official also acknowledged the role of the Indian American Community."The Indian-American community is one of the most highly educated and highest earning in the US, and fosters important business, academic, and cross-cultural ties. And, as we witnessed in 2006 with Congress' passage of the Hyde Act, the Indian-American community is making its voice felt here," Burns pointed out.

India and the US are together exploring a host of technological initiatives ranging from agriculture to civil nuclear power, he told the audience of diplomats, foreign policy practitioners and intellectuals.

"We are building closer ties in space exploration, satellite navigation, and in the space science arena...We are providing US instruments for India's lunar mission Chandrayaan-1," he said.

First Published: May 24, 2007 10:13 IST

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