Expanding US ties with India will be President Obama's priority: Burns

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Washington, June 2 (ANI): In the run-up to the first strategic dialogue between India and the United States being held here this week, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J Burns has said that the Obama administration has always seen its relationship with India as "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century."

Speaking ahead of the dialogue that will see India represented by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and other senior officials, Burns revealed that in the new National Security Strategy released last week, President Obama had underscored that "expanding our partnership with India will remain one of his highest priorities."

"The simple truth is that India's strength and progress on the world stage is deeply in the strategic interest of the United States, " he said.

Reiterating the importance of the bilateral relationship by saying that "never has there been a moment when partnership between India and America mattered more to the rest of the globe," Burns said the world's two leading democracies can help build "a new global commons-an international system in which other democracies can flourish, human dignity is advanced, poverty is reduced, trade is expanded, our environment is preserved, violent extremists are marginalized, the spread of weapons of mass destruction is curbed, and new frontiers in science and technology are explored."

He, however, said that progress in the U.S.-Indian partnership is not automatic.

"It requires continued hard work and vision on both sides. It requires patience and creativity. And, it requires honesty in dealing head-on with concerns and doubts that arise on both sides," he said.

On India's role in the Asia-Pacific, he said Washington supports broadened Indian participation in the institutional architecture of the region.

"India's voice as a successful democracy is important in a region where courageous leaders like Aung San Suu Kyi struggle in the non-violent footsteps of Gandhi. We share with India an interest in regional stability and a geopolitical balance, which maximizes opportunities for economic and human advancement, while minimizing the risks of conflict and mistrust. Central to that positive vision is a healthy relationship between India and China," Burns said.

"Our Strategic Dialogue this week elevates India to the rank of our most important global partners, allowing us to discuss and coordinate policies of global import, including on the future shape of the international economic system and on what we can do together to promote human development in other parts of the world," he said.

He described Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as one of President Obama's most valued partners in the G-20.

He further said that the United States strongly supports the recent expansion of India's World Bank voting share. The fact that Treaury Secretary Timothy Geithner had traveled to New Delhi in April explicitly to consult on global stimulus plans was another clear indication of India's economic prominence," he said. By Asif Ismail (ANI)

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