Twelve years after the "war on terror" began, President Barack Obama wants to pull the United States back from some of the most controversial aspects of its global fight against Islamist militants. Full Article
Q+A - What is holding up better U.S.-India ties?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and India this week launch their first "strategic dialogue" as teams of officials work to flesh out a relationship that thus far has been stronger on symbolism than on substance.
Both sides note that the United States, the world's oldest democracy, and India, the most populous, are natural global partners which share values and strategic interests across a wide range of topics.
But U.S.-India relations remain shadowed by a sense of malaise, with both countries hoping for more concrete results from a partnership still finding its footing.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN WASHINGTON?
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna hope to focus on follow-up from Clinton's India trip last year and laying the groundwork for President Barack Obama's planned visit to India later this year.
The two countries have identified five areas for broader cooperation: strategic issues, energy, climate change, education and development, and trade and agriculture.
On Wednesday, the U.S.-India Business Council will host a meeting that will be addressed by White House economic adviser Larry Summers while senior diplomats hold discussions on strategic issues including Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the stand-off over Iran's nuclear program.
On Thursday, Clinton and Krishna will chair the main meeting, which will also include senior officials involved with trade, aid, education and national security.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATE OF INDO-U.S. RELATIONS
Obama welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the first official state visit of his administration in November, and both sides say ties -- a focus for former U.S. President George W. Bush -- are the best they've been for decades.
Two-way trade between the two countries, which were on opposing sides in the Cold War, has risen to close to $50 billion from just $5 billion in 1990.
But some tensions remain, particularly over Pakistan, and movement to build on pledges of deeper engagement have been slow. U.S. officials say this week's meetings represent a chance for top officials to build relationships that will translate into better policy coordination.
WHAT DOES INDIA WANT
Political analysts say India is looking for U.S. reassurances that Washington takes New Delhi seriously as a global partner and will not sacrifice Indian interests as it seeks to bolster arch-rival Pakistan in the face of Islamist militant violence.
India wants to ensure that its priorities are taken into account in Afghanistan, with fears any Afghan plan to broker a deal with the Taliban could undermine India's security and give Islamabad greater influence there.
India will be looking for signs that the United States will provide it access to a Chicago man, David Headley, who pleaded guilty to helping plan the 2008 Mumbai attacks which was blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
India has also watched with trepidation as the United States and China deepen their relationship, and wants to ensure that it is not cast into the shadows.
WHAT IS THE U.S. LOOKING FOR?
The United States is seeking greater Indian cooperation on a number of issues, ranging from trade to climate change.
It wants India to finalize details of a civilian nuclear cooperation accord so that U.S. companies can enter its potentially large nuclear power plant market, which could be worth up to $10 billion for U.S. firms such as General Electric.
Washington is also keen to see India open up its retail sector, a big plumb for Wal-Mart, while U.S. firms Lockheed Martin and Boeing are in the running for India's planned $11 billion purchase of 126 new fighter jets.
India is a major carbon emitter and an influential voice in the world climate change discussion, and the United States is hoping for more Indian support for new emission targets at the next United Nations global warming meeting in Cancun in November.
(writing by Andrew Quinn; editing by Cynthia Osterman)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this