India on Friday said it is looking forward to a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson next week to further strengthen a partnership based on a shared commitment to a rule-based international order.
Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar welcomed a recent statement by Tillerson calling for an expansion of strategic ties.
"We appreciate his positive evaluation of the relationship and share his optimism about its future directions," Kumar said.
In an address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, Tillerson on Wednesday said the world needs the U.S. and India to have a strong partnership as he pointedly criticized China, which he accused of challenging international norms needed for global stability.
He said the United States and India shared goals of security, free navigation, free trade and an international rules-based order which is increasingly under strain.
Both India and China have benefited from that order, but Tillerson said India had done so while respecting the rules and norms, while China had "at times" undermined them. He alluded to China's island building and expansive territorial claims in seas where Beijing has long-running territorial disputes with Southeast Asian neighbors.
Tillerson's remarks come as a boost to India at a time when its ties with China have suffered a setback following a recent border standoff.
In his Afghan strategy unveiled in August, U.S. President Donald Trump asked India to do more to help Afghanistan's development.