US President Barack Obama on Wednesday said India was the “cornerstone” of US engagement in Asia, but gave no assurance on supporting the country in its bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council or ending curbs on export of dual-use technologies.
The Indo-US partnership “is based on both our shared values and our shared interests, and for these reasons, I welcome and support India’s rise as a global power”, said Obama
Obama said the visit would give him an opportunity to work with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bring Indo-US cooperation on a broad range of issues “to a new level”.
India’s rise “is in the best interests of both the countries (India and the US), of the region and the world”, he said.
Obama answered a wide range of questions covering contentious issues like US curbs on export of dual-use technology items, outsourcing, UNSC membership and Pakistan’s failure to take action against perpetrators of 26/11 attacks.
When told that there did not seem to be any “big ticket items” on the agenda, he responded by saying: “I do not want to pre-empt the announcements that the Prime Minister and I will make while I am in India.
“I think you can expect a series of announcements on how we are going to deepen and broaden our cooperation on a range of things that will have a direct and very positive impact on millions of people both in India and the United States.
“There will be big items on the agenda, and — just as importantly — I believe that we will build an even stronger foundation for the US-India partnership going forward.”
Asked about the possibility of his announcing lifting of curbs on export of dual-use technology items and clearly supporting India for permanent membership of the UN Security Council, Obama said the two issues were “very difficult and complicated”.
“Our teams continue to work hard to reach an agreement that strengthens the international non-proliferation system while treating India in a manner that is consistent with our strategic partnership,” he said in a reference to export restrictions that cover items which have both peaceful and military usage.
Without committing himself to a firmer support for India’s bid for permanent seat in UNSC, Obama said, “I do also expect to discuss India’s role as an actor on the global stage during my visit.”
Obama gave a subtle comment on the controversial issue of outsourcing when he said: India should give US companies the same access to its markets that US gives.
“As President, I have a responsibility to support jobs and opportunity for the American people, and I believe the US-India economic relationship can and should be a ‘win-win’ relationship for both of our countries,” he said.
The President went on to emphasise that Indo-US relationship “now goes well beyond any one particular issue”.
“If you look at the breadth of everything we are working on now — from economic engagement to counter terrorism and security cooperation, from clean energy to development — it goes well beyond the type of cooperation that we pursued just a few years ago.”
All this indicated “the enormously positive trajectory of US-India relations”, Obama said.
Outlining his vision of the relationship between the two countries, the President said, “my vision is a US-India partnership in which we work together to shape a more secure, stable, and just world.
“My visit gives me an opportunity to experience first hand your fascinating country, discuss issues of mutual concern with my friend Prime Minister Singh, and work with him to bring our cooperation on a broad range of issues to a new level.
“It is also important that I am visiting India as the first stop on a major trip to Asia, as I see India as a cornerstone of America’s engagement in Asia, just as it is fundamental to our engagement in multilateral forums like the G-20.
“To me, the US and India share an indispensable partnership, one that has benefits for both our countries and the world.”