U.S. President Barack Obama kept his endorsement of India's bid for a permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council secret till minutes before he rose to address the Indian Parliament, as his move was splashed on front pages of American newspapers on Tuesday.

“Obama had kept the move close to his chest even till the last moment and it was not clear until shortly before his parliamentary address that Obama would call for India to join an expanded Council on a permanent basis,” The Washington Post reported.

The support received endorsement from the media too.

The papers, who carried Mr. Obama's support on the front pages, said it emphasised Washington's efforts to deepen its economic and defence relationship with the world's biggest democracy.

While backing the President's move, the Post cautioned that endorsement did not set a time frame for when India would secure a permanent Security Council seat. Nor did it offer any guarantee that India would secure such a seat.

The New York Times on the other hand said Mr. Obama backed India to counter China. “The Obama move is aimed at countering China.”

“By endorsing India for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, President Obama on Monday signalled the U.S.' intention to create a deeper partnership of the world's two largest democracies that would expand commercial ties and check the influence of an increasingly assertive China,” it said.

It warned that the move was likely to set off fresh concerns in Beijing, which has had a contentious relationship with India and has expressed alarm at American efforts to tighten alliances with Asian nations wary of China's rising power.

Hard campaign

“India has campaigned hard for a U.N. seat, long a subtext of a warming India and U.S. relationship. Mr. Obama embraced the idea in a speech to India's Parliament that emphasised Washington's efforts to deepen its economic and defense relationship with the world's biggest democracy,” said The Post.

The Los Angeles Times said Mr. Obama's pledge is “only a step” in direction of new international stature for India.

“The endorsement, though of little practical value at the moment, is aimed at boosting relations with India, and is a signal of the administration's vision of Asia at a time when China's influence is growing,” it said.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns as saying that Washington has not laid out any actual plan for a reformed Security Council and that it would take “significant” time to work it out.