New Delhi : US envoy David Mulford Wednesday sought to downplay Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's remarks questioning the relevance of non-alignment and stressed that his country was looking at India as a "partner, and not an ally."
"India is a natural partner. India is a country that shares so many values with the US like liberty, democracy, democracy, diversity and tolerance," Mulford said in a speech at The American Centre on the 231st anniversary of the American Independence Day.
"We are going to live in an increasingly complex and difficult world. It's important to be partners, and not allies," he said. "I say partner, and not ally," Mulford repeated for emphasis.
"Secretary Rice was talking about the changing realities of a post-Cold War world. It's now a more diversified and different world. She did not deny the importance of non-alignment," Mulford told reporters when asked about his comments on India's reaction to Rice's remarks.
India has reacted strongly to Rice's remarks that questioned the relevance of non-alignment at the 32nd anniversary celebrations of the United States-India Business Council (USIBC) in Washington last week.
In a statement, the external affairs ministry forcefully reiterated "India's firm and abiding commitment to non-alignment", and said it continued to be relevant in "promoting South-South cooperation and the democratisation of the international system".