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Clinton Vows to Usher New Era in US-India Relations

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she wants to take U.S.-Indian relations to a higher level. The secretary's comments come as Clinton prepares to visit New Delhi next month. There is concern in India that President Obama's administration is focusing its South Asia policy too heavily on Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

Pakistani jets streak overhead in the continuing battle to uproot Taliban and al Qaida.  The fight against militants, here in  South Waziristan, continues at the urging of the new U.S. administration.

But with this battle now a top priority in U.S.-South Asian policy, some political analysts in India have expressed concern their country is of diminished importance.

Weeks before her first visit to New Delhi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the relationship at the U.S. India Business Council.  She vowed to usher in a new era.

"We see India as one of a few key partners worldwide who will help us shape the 21st century," Clinton said. "We want India to succeed as an anchor for regional and global security, and we want India to succeed so that the world's two largest democracies can work together as strong partners."

The secretary of state said she is focused on taking the bi-lateral relationship to a higher level - compared to the administrations of former President Bush and former President Clinton.

"Four platforms of cooperation - global security, human development, economic activity, science and technology - can support us in launching this third phase of the US-India relationship," she states.

But in New Delhi, some Indian media analysts say they fear President Obama's focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan will mean less attention on its partnership with India, particularly on global security matters.
 
Former U.S. ambassador to New Delhi, Richard Celeste does not agree. 

"Because we [the U.S.] and India share so much of a common threat of terrorism that emanates from those two countries in that region, we are going to find ourselves working closer and closer together there even when we have some political differences," Celeste said.

On June 29, India's ambassador to Washington, Meera Shankar, said that India shares the U.S. objectives in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But she told a gathering, India is concerned about the nature of the U.S. military aid to Pakistan.  Kashmir remains tense as the two nation's militaries face each other across the Line of Control.

"Security assistance, we feel, should be focused more specifically on building counter-insurgency capabilities rather than conventional defense," Shankar said.

And the ambassador urges the Obama administration to give India priority on its own merits.

"The secretary of state is due to visit India in July and we hope that visit will provide the basis for both countries announcing a road map to take the India-U.S. relations to the next level," Shankar added. 

Many analysts in Washington agree with Secretary Clinton that trade and business relationships have developed so fast, that that the two governments must catch up.

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