India is very important to us: US

June 9th, 2009 - 10:36 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 9 (IANS) The Obama administration has said it would to “work really hard” to strengthen ties with New Delhi as part of a strategic set of priorities, saying India is very important to the United States as the world’s largest democracy.

“This region of the world is very important to us. India is very important to us, as the world’s largest democracy,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters Monday ahead of a visit by America’s top diplomat.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns is due in New Delhi Wednesday for the first high-level bilateral consultations with the Manmohan Singh government after its return to power in last month’s parliamentary elections.

“They did just have elections… but there was no specific triggering action for this trip as far as I know,” Kelly said when asked if the administration was waiting for the elections to be over before initiating a high level contact with New Delhi.

“I think it’s going to be the broad bilateral agenda that we have with India,” he said noting that as the top State Department official, Burns regularly travels and carries out consultations. “I think it’s just one of his normal visits where he consults with his counterparts.”

Asked if he was expecting any visit from India, Kelly said: “I’m not aware of it, and I just don’t have anything right now for - on that.”

The spokesman’s comments about India’s importance came a day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the ABC news channel that the US was going to work really hard on its relationships with India as its creates a strategic set of priorities for foreign relations.

“I spend a lot of my time on the problems that you would imagine:

Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Middle East, Iran. But I’m also working to create a strategic set of priorities that will guide our efforts,” she said Sunday.

“So, for example, there are specific regional and country-based endeavours that we are teeing up. We are going to work really hard on our relationships with, for example, Indonesia, and Turkey, and India,” said Clinton.

In New Delhi Burns is expected to prepare the ground for the former First Lady’s own first visit to India since taking the helm of US foreign policy establishment. Although no date has been officially announced yet, the visit is likely in July.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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