Washington: An influential American Senator, known as India’s best friend in the U.S. Senate, apologised on Sunday for “mistakenly” calling India a security threat to the U.S.

While defending the need to continue with the F-22 programme, now being closed down by the Obama administration, Senator John Cornyn said in an interview that the U.S. needed these fighter jets for protecting itself from increasing national security threats from countries such as North Korea, Iran and India.

Mr. Cornyn is founder and Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus and had played a key role in the passage of the India-U.S. civilian nuclear deal. He has been one of the prime supporter of deepening of strategic ties between India and the U.S.

“It’s important to our national security because we’re not just fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq... we have graver threats and greater threats than that, from a rising India, with increased exercise of their military power; Russia, Iran, that’s threatening to build a nuclear weapon; with North Korea, shooting intercontinental ballistic missiles, capable of hitting American soil,” he had said.

“Senator Cornyn regrets the mistake and apologises for any misunderstanding this may have caused,” Kevin McLaughlin, his spokesperson, said in a statement after the issue was brought to the notice of the media by an Indian American.

“Senator Cornyn misspoke saying ‘India’ when he meant to say ‘China.’ As Founder and Co-chairman of the Senate India Caucus, no Senator has greater respect or admiration for India or values our relationship with them more,” McLaughlin said. — PTI