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Friday, June 4, 2010

Ties with India top priority, proud to go there: Obama

Washington: US President Barack Obama said he plans to visit India in November to together make 'history and progress that will be treasured by generations to come', as he described Indo-US ties as 'one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century'.

'Our relations with India are at the highest of priorities for my administration and for me personally as president of the United States,' Obama said at a reception Thursday at the State Department hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna after the inaugural US-India Strategic Dialogue.

'I am delighted to announce tonight that I plan to visit India in early November,' he said.

'When it comes to building a future of greater prosperity, opportunity and security for people there is no doubt I have to go to India, but even more I am proud to go to India.

'And I look forward to the history that we will make together, the progress that will be treasured not only by this generation, but by future generations to come,' he said.

The rare gesture of attending a reception at the State department was seen as a way to ease India's concerns that the US views ties with New Delhi through the prism of Pakistan and Afghanistan or a rising China.

Obama called India 'a responsible global power' and said the 'unprecedented' US-India relationship 'will be a defining partnership of the 21st century' that will help shape the future of the world on issues such as economy and security.

'We value our partnership... because of what we share and where we can go together,' he said, adding that the two countries share a vision of the future built on 'security and prosperity'.

Obama said he has to go to India to experience 'all that India and its people and its incredible ancient culture have to offer'.

'Whatever sphere of the human mind you may select for your special study, whether it be language or religion or mythology or philosophy, whether it be law or customs, primitive art, or science, you have to go to India, because some of the most valuable and instructive material of the history of man are treasured up in India, and India only,' he said while citing a quote from a European scholar who travelled to India over 100 years back.

'So I look forward to advancing our partnership, to experiencing all that India and its people and its incredible ancient culture have to offer. So when it comes to the sphere of our work, building a future of greater prosperity, opportunity and security for our people, there is no doubt; I have to go India.

'But even more, I am proud to go to India, and I look forward to the history that we will make together, progress that will be treasured not just by this generation but by generations to come.'

Krishna too stressed the importance of the US-India relationship, saying New Delhi can be a 'dependable anchor of the region's growth'.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had visited the White House on Obama presidency's first state visit in November 2009, Krishna said, had 'asked me to reiterate the importance he attaches to this strategic dialogue'.

'There are few relationships in the world that have so much potential as India-US relations, because, I believe, that our cooperation is not only for great mutual benefit, but is destined to have a strong impact on global peace, prosperity and stability in the 21st century,' Krishna said.

Earlier, at a joint press conference with Krishna, Clinton said echoing Obama's words about India as an indispensable partner: 'We believe that a rising India is good for the US and good for the world.'

'Our two nations, great democracies, dynamic and interconnected economies and engines of progress, understand that our fortunes in this new century are increasingly linked,' she said.

Noting that both India and the US have experienced violent extremists, Clinton said she and Krishna discussed the importance of India's leadership to promoting security, stability and prosperity across Asia and beyond.

'Security is more than a priority, it's an imperative,' she said.

Krishna said they had agreed that terrorist groups operate as a syndicate, leveraging each other's assets and strength, and were increasingly converging together on motivation and targets.

India was pleased with the way the counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries has progressed and that they have agreed to intensify it further, he said.

On Afghanistan, Krishna said India and the US have a shared convergent goal of a stable, peaceful, pluralistic and democratic Afghanistan, which protects the rights and the dignity of all sections of Afghan society

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