US’ strategic partnership with India to remain its priority


LAHORE – US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Assistant Secretary Robert O Blake, Jr told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a testimony on Wednesday that US’ global strategic partnership with India would remain among its “top foreign policy priorities.”
Blake told the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia that US President Barack Obama had told the Indian parliament last November that with India assuming “its rightful place in the world, we have an historic opportunity to make the relationship between our two countries a defining partnership of the century ahead”.
Excluding Pakistan from his review of South Asia because Pakistan and Afghanistan were “critical countries” for which Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman had primary responsibility, Blake said the “burgeoning, multi-ethnic, multi-religious region” was anchored by the growing prosperity and global reach of India and played an instrumental role in world affairs, international commerce, and global peace and security.
He said the US sought to deepen its strategic partnership with India, highlighted by President Obama’s recent visit to Mumbai and New Delhi in November 2010. He said one core facet of the US-India global strategic partnership was the increasing defence ties between the two countries. He said US defence sales to India had skyrocketed over the last decade.
“The value of these sales is not just the dollar figure – they both represent and strengthen deeper levels of cooperation between our two militaries and facilitate building people-to-people ties. India has purchased more than $4 billion of US defence hardware over the last decade,” he added.
He said the Indian government was also in the final stages of finalising a $4.1 billion sale for ten C-17 Globemaster heavy-lift transport aircraft – a deal announced during the Obama’s recent visit – after which India would have the second largest C-17 fleet in the world behind that of the US.
He said that since 2008, democratically elected leaders had been governing all South Asian countries, an indication that India’s “thriving democracy” had served as a useful model in the region. He said the “rise of India” was in the best interest of the US, and its growth redounded with benefits to US economy.
He cited the example of commercial deals with India that exceeded $14.9 billion in total value with $9.5 billion in US export content, supporting an estimated 53,670 jobs.