US foreign policy expert calls for deepening ties with India

Barack Obama

Obama Administration needs to address its institutional deficiencies so as to deepen its relationship with India, a prominent American foreign policy expert has said.

Observing that the US-India relationship is vital to maintaining a balance of power in Asia that is favorable to the United States, Ashley Tellis of the prestigious Brookings Institute said "deepening the partnership requires the US President Barack Obama to address institutional deficiencies in Washington, cooperate with New Delhi on Afghanistan and Iran, build up India's defence capabilities, and encourage Indian economic reform".

An important institutional improvement would be integrating the India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan bureaucracies under a single directorate in the White House and bureau at the State Department, he said.

"In conjunction, Washington ought to designate a senior official with specific responsibility for India, since it must be expected that Pakistan and Afghanistan will naturally consume substantial leadership attention in the foreseeable future," Tellis said.

The Obama Administration in the second term, he said, should seek continued Indian cooperation in achieving its strategic goals in Afghanistan and Iran.

"Partly because of disenchantment with Pakistan's duplicity in counterterrorism operations and partly because of the recognition that Afghans often welcome Indian reconstruction activities more warmly than they do other international programs, the Obama administration has strongly endorsed Indian contributions to efforts in Afghanistan and urged their expansion," he said.

In the months ahead, Washington should encourage the Indian government to increase its contributions with an eye toward enabling a successful transition, he observed.

Tellis said time has come for the United States to seriously implement its long-professed strategic intention of building up Indian defence capabilities.

"Because there are no fundamental conflicts of interest between India and America, aiding Indian defence programs and defence industrialisation efforts remains in Washington's self-interest no matter what the differences in tactics or styles may be between the two states," he argued.

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