President Barack Obama, who has described India as an “indispensable” partner for the 21st century, is preparing for his landmark visit to New Delhi to help further strengthen the ties between the two economies and people, a top U.S. official said on Friday.

“I foresee our great nations becoming ever closer in the years and decades to come. President Obama intends to make a landmark visit to India in November to help further grow the ties between our two knowledge societies, our economies, and our people,” Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said.

“There has been a transformation in the way the U.S. views India. President Obama has called India our “indispensable” partner for the 21st century,” Mr. Blake said in his remarks at the San Diego World Affairs Council.

India’s strategic importance to the U.S. reflects several factors, he said, including the centre of gravity of U.S. foreign policy has shifted from Europe to Asia and within Asia no other country has the thriving democracy, economic promise, the sheer human capital and the growing record of cooperation with the United States that India has.

As Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns recently noted, “Never has there been a moment when India and America mattered more to one another. And never has there been a moment when partnership between India and America mattered more to the rest of the globe.”

The vitality of U.S.-India relations is no more evident than here in San Diego, he said.

In addition to strong commerce and business connections and a vibrant Indian American population, U.S. India defence cooperation also has local ties to the San Diego area, Mr. Blake said.

“The close links between our two militaries, particularly the Navy-to-Navy relationship, are a remarkable feature of the larger Indo-U.S. defence relationship. India holds more military exercises with the U.S. than any other country, including the annual MALABAR naval exercises,” he said.

India, he said, would be the first to say that its own successes should not overshadow important recent developments in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan that could have wide and positive ramifications for the region.

“The recent histories of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives show that they are joining India in consolidating democracy and contributing to the peace and security of the larger world. They may seem small, but they understand the need to think big.

“Each in their own way is contributing to the growth of South Asia and the growing importance that the United States attaches to cooperation with South Asia,” Mr. Blake said.

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