‘Obama-Biden team will take India-US relationship to next level’

By Lalit K. Jha, IANS,

New York : An influential Democratic Indian American leader has asserted that the Obama-Biden team in the White House would take the India-US relationship to the next level. Swadesh Chhatterjee has also discounted a recent Obama statement that he would help resolve the Kashmir dispute, which some in India saw as interference.

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“Though there is a perception that the India-US relationship would go backwards (under Obama presidency), there is no reason to think that way,” Chatterjee, national financial chair of Asian Americans for Obama, told IANS after the Illinois Senator was declared winner of the presidential election.

Chatterjee, who was bestowed with a Padmashri by the Indian Government in 2001 for playing a key role in rebuilding India-US relationship post-Pokhran II, is known to be a close friend of the Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

“I think, Obama-Biden team would look at India as one of the strongest allies of the United State in the 21st century,” said Chatterjee, who played a lead role in galvanising the Indian American community to get the India-US nuclear deal passed by the US Congress.

Chatterjee said the Biden-Obama team feels India has a lot to offer to resolve the issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “I think the US needs the help of India, and no other country can help the US better than India,” he said.

When asked about the recent statement of Obama that he would facilitate resolving the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, Chatterjee said people are reading much more into it than they should.

“Because Obama made the comment that Kashmir issue should be resolved does not mean that the US is going to interfere,” he observed.

“I really believe that Obama would take exactly the same position as was told before by the Democratic Party, that Kashmir is an issue between India and Pakistan and they should resolve within themselves. No way is the US going to interfere on the Kashmir issue,” Chatterjee said.

Referring to his close association with Biden, Chatterjee said the Vice President-elect would play the most influential role in shaping the foreign policy of the US in the Obama administration. Biden currently is chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Biden is a friend of India. He would play a very important role when it comes to having relationship with India,” he said, adding: “You would see the relationship grow much deeper.”