India more important for us than Pakistan: US

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Washington: US has said that broad-based partnerships between America and India are critical and more important as compared to Pakistan, as New Delhi is growing as a potential power with global influence.

"The US-India strategic potential is very, very profound," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and South East Asia James Clad told online journalists and bloggers during a conference call from the Pentagon.

While Pakistan continues to search for Osama bin Laden and help wage the global war on terrorism, Clad explained, the Indo-US relationship is more important in the long run.

"India simply must, as a long term consideration, matter more for us than Pakistan," Clad was quoted as saying in the American Forces Press Services.

"India is seen as a potentially a power with global reach," Clad said.

"It's been slow in coming - I think it will be slow in coming in the future - but it is steady. The trend lines are unmistakable," he added.

Clad also said that India is on a major course to ramp up its military infrastructure with a multi-billion budget at the ready to purchase, among other equipment, 126 multi-role combat aircraft.

"It is the largest external-announced defence procurement budget in the world. And people are obviously interested in this," he said, adding 52 US defence corporations, including Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Ratheon, Honeywell and General Electric, have all set up offices in India.

Referring to the recent visit by the US Nimitz to Chennai, Clad said the visit was an enormous success, greeted with great interest by the local people.

The US Navy also recently refurbished its former USS Trenton and presented it as a gift to the Indian navy, he said.

"This is a substantial vessel which has been very well received in Indian naval circles," he said noting the larger aspects of the bilateral relationship.

"You hit a golf ball on the Bangalore golf course, and that ball, unless you're careful, is going to go right through a window of IBM, which is right next to Infosys, which is an Indian firm staffed by Indian-Americans who are also listed on the New York Stock Exchange. So it's a much bigger relationship," he said.

"The relationship with India is now more comprehensive in trade, information technology, movement of its peoples," he said, adding there are 2 million Indian-Americans now living in the US.

The US, Clad said, should embrace the opportunity to assist and advise the country.

"It's about maintaining a type of equilibrium, about accepting India's rise into a type of maturity and power and prowess. We're coming into something that's naturally there. It's like a seat which is already at the table, and we're sliding into it," he added.


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