Friday, May 04, 2007


India's strategic importance has increased in US eyes: Report

April 05, 2007 12:17 IST

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The increasing US focus on political and economic relationships in Asia and the rise of India and China have increased New Delhi's strategic importance in Washington's eyes, according to an American think tank

"India's democratic heritage, impressive economic performance, and civilian control of the military are all seen as attractive factors in pursuing a closer strategic relationship," Vibuti Hate and Teresita Schaffer of the Centre for Strategic and International Affairs have said in the latest issue of the South Asia Monitor.

"US officials expect India to play a major role in shaping Asia's strategic environment," the authors have said adding, that Washington would like New Delhi to be involved in a number of major issues.

However, the biggest contrast between US and Indian security goals has to do with India-Pakistan relations, they said.

India sees Pakistan as the principal source of terrorism, and one that affects India not just in Jammu and Kashmir, but also in other parts of the country.

Washington sees Pakistan primarily as an ally in the war on terror, albeit one that is under US pressure to deal more effectively with domestic Islamic militant groups.

The United States, Hate and Schaffer point out, would like to include India in its international efforts to prevent terrorism, stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, assist in the war on terror, and ensure the security of energy lanes in the Indian Ocean.

Like their Indian counterparts, US security officials consider the safety of sea lanes crucial to national security.

"US interest in the Indian Ocean is primarily motivated by a desire to protect global energy markets. Over half of the world's oil supplies travel through sea lanes in the Indian Ocean, and disruption of energy supplies would have a major impact on the US regardless of whether US supplies specifically travel through these waters," the authors have said.

Noting that real strategic exchange is relatively new for both Indians and Americans, they said, "India's sensitivity about its relations with China and US concerns about Pakistan have made it difficult for India and the United States to have candid consultations on the issues that are the most important to their future strategic interests.

"If the two countries are to achieve a real strategic partnership, that kind of candor will need to develop, along with increased familiarity with each other's military practices and a nuanced understanding of strategic outlooks," the CSIS scholars have said.


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