Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said the three key issues discussed during the strategic dialogue were reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that recognised India's central role in global politics, counter-terrorism cooperation and the need for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, and defence modernisation, including relaxation of export controls for sensitive high-tech items of trade.
Speaking at a seminar hosted by the Brookings Institution on ‘India and the United States: A Strategic Partnership,' Ms. Rao said the three driving factors behind what President Obama had described as an “unprecedented partnership” were shared values, growing economic and people-to-people contacts, and convergence on major global issues such as terrorism, and energy and food security.
On possible future discussions regarding reform within the United Nations, Ms. Rao said: “The question of reform of the UNSC and the expansion of its membership is an important item on the agenda of our dialogue as we seek U.S. support for India's case for permanent membership of the Security Council.”
Describing India's vision of enhanced South Asian cooperation, Ms. Rao noted: “That vision is, however, being challenged by violent extremism and terrorism which originates in our region and finds sustenance and sanctuary there.” She added that the recent failed terrorist attempt in Times Square, New York, had again revealed the global reach of terrorist organisations, whether Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
Touching upon the Afghanistan link to terror, Ms. Rao said India was “supportive of the U.S. efforts to fight terrorism in Afghanistan” and help with restoring stability there. She noted that Indian assistance amounting to over $1.3 billion had helped develop vital civil infrastructure, build human resources and capacities in the areas of health, education, agriculture and rural development among others.
Ms. Rao reiterated the comments of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna during the dialogue, saying that India stood by its development partnership with Afghanistan “despite repeated terrorist attacks on the Indian mission and our brave men and women who are working there to help transform the lives of ordinary Afghan citizens.”
In her speech, Ms. Rao also emphasised that an important element with regard to ongoing U.S.-India partnerships in defence modernisation would be “progress on the easing of U.S. export control restrictions as they apply to India.”
She argued that this would not only be a logical outcome of the civil nuclear initiative, but would also be a catalyst for promoting trading and cooperation in high-technology, defence and the space sectors. “It would also be consonant with the nature of the strategic partnership that exists between us and the growing mutual trust and confidence that is an important driver in our relations today,” she added.