No drift in India-US relations, says NSA

India’s National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon says India-US ties are a full spectrum relationship.

Dismissing speculation of drift, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon said on Friday that India-US ties are a “full spectrum relationship” which, over the past decade, has seen much transformation and reached a level of maturity.

“For India, the relationship with the US has been the most transformed relationship in the past ten years. What were once considered breakthroughs in the relationship, are now regarded as routine and normal,” he said. 

“This is a sign of maturity in the relationship, even if it robs it of some of the excitement of some years ago. We also face the reality that we must now deal with new challenges in the years ahead,” Menon said in his talk on ‘India and the US’ at Aspen Institute India here.

He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with US President Barack Obama on Sep 27 would be his sixth bilateral summit with a US president. His first summit meeting was in 2005 with President George W. Bush.

Menon said one reason for the perceived drift could be “that it is now a full spectrum relationship, no longer focused on one big transformational idea like the civil nuclear cooperation initiative in 2005-8. To me that breadth is the strength of the relationship”.

Another reason could be economic factors, he said. 

“It arises from the macroeconomic situation. US friends mention concerns about economic reforms and specific policy issues in India. These concerns are not unique to the US. They are, first and foremost, of concern to Indians,” Menon said, adding that the government is addressing all issues.

He said India’s IT industry, which provides employment to 280,000 people in the US, “has genuine difficulties with certain discriminatory provisions of the Immigration Reform Bill”.

He said the civil nuclear agreement of 2008 “is a symbol of our transformed relationship” with commercial negotiations underway.

Menon said India-US ties are embedded “in a larger vision of a global strategic partnership” which despite the turbulence in the world, including the global economic crisis, has “stayed on a strong and steady course”.

He said the US “is an Asia-Pacific power and can play a constructive role in advancing regional stability, integration and cooperation”.

“Neither India or the United States see their relationship as directed against any other country. Nor does a strong India-US partnership run against the course of India’s relations with other countries,” he added.

On Afghanistan, where the US-led international force are set to drawdown next year, both sides have close consultations. “And, though approaches may diverge sometimes, we have a shared vision for a stable, united, democratic and prosperous.”

“Our deepening strategic partnership does not mean that we won’t have our differences. This is inevitable between countries in different circumstances, at different levels of development, and in dissimilar geopolitical situations,” he said.


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