Improving ties with India has been a “very high priority” for the new U.S. administration, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon told journalists aboard President's Barack Obama's special flight to Mumbai.
Giving a big-picture view of Mr. Obama's visit, Mr. Donilon said the new administration, after looking at its range of priorities, felt that it would be “quite effective, to restore U.S. influence, power and authority in the world” by focussing on Asia.
“We looked very hard at great power relations, and we've undertaken a determined effort to make those relationships as productive and positive as possible. That explains our intensive interaction with a range of partners — Russia, China, Europe, emerging powers like India.”
Although it is the sixth India visit by a U.S. President, this one ranked in the category of “highly significant” because Washington wanted to take the relationship to a “different level going beyond bilateral elements.”
“It was from the outset a determined and deliberate effort. The Secretary of State's first trip abroad was to Asia. That's the first time the Secretary of State has taken his or her first trip abroad to Asia since Dean Rusk did so in the early 1960s,'' Mr. Donilon said.
The focus on Asia was because of its buoyant trade and economics statistics.
“Asia has been a core focus of our policy, foreign policy and national security policy since the first days of the administration. ... between 2002 and 2009, again, world economic growth was at about 3.6 per cent and growth in Asia 8.2 per cent.”
China equally important
But India was not the only country in Asia the U.S. had set its sights on. China was equally important. “We undertook an intensive engagement effort across the board. An example of that is that President Obama has had six face-to-face meetings with President Hu Jintao of China since he became President. That's more encounters between a U.S. President and a Chinese President in that comparable period of time than has ever been seen.”