Take a ‘bold leap’ in Indo-US ties: US think tank

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : As President Barack Obama prepares for his India trip, a US think tank has advised his team to produce a “bold leap forward” in Indo-US ties that could change the history of the 21st century. It said the US has a “compelling interest in facilitating democratic India’s emergence as a global power”.

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The recommendation is made by the Centre for a New American Security in a just released report laying out a concrete vision and action agenda for reinvigorating relations with India, which it suggests have drifted over the past 22 months.

Co-chaired by former deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, and guided by CNAS senior fellow Richard Fontaine, the report seeks to provide a blueprint for the Obama administration.

“The stakes are high: the United States has a compelling interest in facilitating democratic India’s emergence as a global power to help shape a world order conducive to our common interests and values,” says the report.

One central recommendation of the report is robust US support for India’s aspirations to permanent membership on the UN Security Council.

“Working with India in multilateral institutions is never easy; both countries have a preference for bilateralism,” it says.

“But India’s ascent to the high table of world politics-with US sponsorship-should over time influence India’s own definition of its interests and expand its strategic horizons in ways that induce greater convergence with the United States in institutions like the United Nations and the G20,” the report said.

“This would benefit both our countries and enhance the legitimacy of key international institutions for a new era,” it said.

In order to chart a more ambitious US-India strategic partnership, the report suggests that the United States should also “seek a broad expansion of bilateral trade and investment, beginning with a Bilateral Investment Treaty.”

Another recommendation is to “greatly expand the security relationship and boost defence trade; support Indian membership in key export control organizations, a step toward integrating India into global non-proliferation efforts; and liberalise US export controls, including the removal of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) subsidiaries from the US Entity List.”

“Of course, strategic partnership is a two-way street, and India lately has disappointed American friends who had hoped for more progress on nuclear liability, defence cooperation, and trade and investment,” the report said.

“India has an equal responsibility to help move the relationship to a higher level,” it said “including by taking rapid action to fully implement the Civil Nuclear Agreement; raising its caps on foreign investment; reducing barriers to defence and other forms of trade.”

Also suggested for India is “enhancing its rules for protecting patents and other intellectual property; further harmonising its export control lists with multilateral regimes; and seeking closer cooperation with the United States and like-minded partners in international organizations, including the United Nations.”

Closer Indo-US relations are intrinsically important, and have ramifications across the full spectrum of functional, regional, and global issues, it said

But given how the rise of China impacts the core interests of both countries, the report suggests that a stable Asian equilibrium is as important to China as it is to India and the United States.

Noting that both India and the United States have a vital interest in maintaining a stable balance of power in Asia, the report says: “Growing US-India strategic ties will ensure that Asia will not have a vacuum of power and will make it easier for both Washington and New Delhi to have productive relations with Beijing.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])