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Experts Say Obama Supports India Playing a Larger Role in Asia

Experts in Washington say President Obama's visit to India underscored U.S policy that aims to bring the world's two largest democracies closer together and reflected India's emerging economic clout. A deeper partnership between the US and India could reign in the influence of an increasingly influential China, according to analysts.

Mr. Obama's three-day visit fostered greater closeness and, more important, US backing for India to occupy a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

"Indeed the just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate," said President Obama. "That is why I can say today in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member."

Speaking to India's Parliament, President Obama became the first US president to openly support India for a permanent seat.

Although, the proposal could face opposition from some of the Security Council's other permanent members, Mr. Obama's announcement won headlines.

And rightly so, says Teresita Schaffer at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"What this decision says is that the United States has confidence that, in the same way that Indian and U.S. interests have come closer in East Asian security, the Indian ocean and a whole string of other issues, now the same thing will happen on a global scale," said Teresita Schaffer.

Experts note that although Mr. Obama's endorsement enhanced Indian goodwill toward him, it could set off fresh concerns in China. But Schaffer says the message should not be new to Beijing.

"I think it sends China a signal that we already have been sending, which is 'no hostility' but a commitment to see Asia develop with a number of important players that are all working together cooperatively," she said.

China had no immediate reaction. But Pakistan was prompt in criticizing the announcement, saying India and the United States are engaging in "power politics" that lacks a moral foundation.

Another highlight of the visit was the US decision to lift sanctions on the sale of US technology for India's defense and space research, says Walter Andersen, a senior South Asia analyst at Johns Hopkins University.

"That opens up a lot of cooperative potential," said Walter Andersen.

He says the sale of C-17 transport planes and engines for India's light combat aircraft also cements India's partnership with the US.

"Whenever we do that with any country, it indicates support for that country and its general objectives, because otherwise we will not be doing it because we would undermine our own security," he said.

Overall, the visit was a huge success, says Ambassador Schaffer, designed to reinforce one fact.

"....that the US is looking at India in the context of a larger Asian scene, as one of the major players in Asia, not just South Asia but also East Asia and we clearly advanced that agenda and that perspective," she said.

The Indian media praised the Obama visit with banner headlines like "Yes We Can," and "Mission accomplished" and saw it as a win-win for both nations.

During his three-day trip - the longest stay in any foreign country so far - President Obama also reassured Americans that countries like India, with its huge market, have the potential to help create more US jobs rather than causing unemployment through outsourcing.