Obama visit: An opportunity to give US-India strategic ties long-term framework: Menon

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Washington, Oct.1 (ANI): President Obama's upcoming visit to India presents an opportunity for both India and the United States to "put into place a longer term framework" in their strategic partnership, India's National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon, has said here.

Mr. Menon, who is here to discuss various bilateral issues with U.S. officials ahead of Mr. Obama's November trip, said the goals of the two countries should be "to gear our bilateral cooperation towards making both our countries stronger, safer and and more prosperous."

Listing a wide range of areas where the two countries have common interests, Menon said, "I think there is a great deal of potential" and enough ballast "there in the relationship now to be able to think of taking it to a new level when President Obama visits India."

Menon was speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on the subject "India-U.S. relations on the eve of President Obama's visit."

He said one area where there would be major initiatives during the much-anticipated visit would be economy and trade.

The issues he discussed in his address and the question-answer session, which lasted nearly 45 minutes, include export-control, security, Afghanistan, China and Pakistan.

Menon also addressed concerns within the U.S. industry about the nuclear liability legislation recently passed by the Indian Parliament. He said there are no insurmountable problems and the Government of India would be happy to discuss the issue with U.S. compnies.

He said he is hoping to finish all the government-level issues before the Obama visit so that the two sides could start the commercial negotiations by the time "we get to the visit."

Responding to a question on the UN Security Council reform, which India has long argued for, Menon said now that the position of much of the world has evolved, moving closer to New Delhi's stand, there is a real prospect of progress.

On Afghanistan, Menon said India's in there for the long haul.

Asked about a report on the Chinese military presence in Gilgit and Baltistan areas, Menon said China had denied the PLA presence in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

India's long-standing position is that Kashmir is an integral part of India and the country has made that clear to everyone, including China, he added.

He said there is no truth in the argument that Kashmir is fueling jihadi terrorism. "On Kashmir, we have made it quite clear that we are willing to discuss all issues with Pakistan; but we have also made it clear that, as long as we face terrorist attacks from Pakistani territory, there will be limits on how far these dialogues can proceed."

Carnegie Endowment president Dr. Jessica Tuchman Mathews moderated the event. By Asif Ismail (ANI)

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