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US regards India a hub of regional prosperity

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : India not only provides crucial export opportunities to American companies but has the potential to become the hub of prosperity in Asia, says a top US diplomat who has served in New Delhi.

“India, with its vibrant democracy and rapidly expanding economy, can be an anchor of stability and opportunity for South and Central Asia,” said Robert O. Blake, a former deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in New Delhi.

“With a massive and expanding middle class, and an economy projected to grow at five percent this year, India can be a hub for regional prosperity,” Blake told his confirmation hearing as the new US point man for South and Central Asia.

Noting that US exports to India increased from $5 billion in 2003 to almost $19 billion in 2008, he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that India also offered several opportunities where US can enhance its regional integration.

“India has a middle class the size of the total US population. It is projected to swell to 580 million people in the next 20 years,” he said, underscoring the nation’s import in the “region of extraordinary opportunity for the US”.

Blake, most recently US ambassador to Sri Lanka, said that the South and Central Asian region would be a growing market for the US in this century even as other parts of the globe were nearing saturation.

“India provides vital export opportunities,” said the seasoned diplomat, who is slated to replace Richard Boucher as assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs in the Barack Obama administration.

He said India and US had some key common interests as democracies, in combating terrorism, getting the global economy back on track, addressing the issue of climate change and reinvigorating global trade talks, he said.

“With India we will seek an expanded strategic partnership, building on the growing convergence of our interests and values.”