Monday, October 25, 2010

Obama and Americans keen on military sales to India

It is quite plain that US president Barack Obama on his visit to India from November 6 will be looking to brisk military sales. It could very well be a key part of the American agenda during Obama's Delhi trip. Of course, the Americans do not want this to be seen in this vulgar light. That is why, a US government official giving a background briefing to Indian journalists in New Delhi on Monday (October 25) has said that this should be seen not just as a transaction but as a partnership. There is no need to doubt that statement. The US looks to India as a major partner in the Asian region, not just in south Asia but more in east Asia. Significantly, the problematic west Asia is carefully omitted. The official had also let it be known that the US had more joint exrecises with the Indian armed forces than with any other country, including the United Kingdom. The official had also indicated that the US does not want India to be tied down to its immediate neighbourhood.
On the economic front too, the Americans are looking to a vibrant partnership. The official said that there is as much investment in America by Indian companies as there is by American companies in India. The India-US relations has been described as a balanced one. The volume of trade between the two countries rose to US$243 billion from 2004 to 2009 though it did dip a bit in 2008. It has already touched US$50 billion till August 2010.
On the civil nuclear liability issue, the official said that as India has joined the international mainstream, it is expected to comply with international standards. There was no comment on India's doemstic civil nuclear liability law.
The official has also said that there will be quarrels between the two countries on trade issues and that this is a normal thing. The parallel volatile relationship of the  US with Europe and Japan was cited to illustrate the point as to how good trading partners spar with each other.
There are no big ticket agreements on the Obama agenda, but the trip is being described as one to deepen the friendship between the two countries  which includes the great personal equation between president Obama and prime minister Manmohan Singh.
To prove the growing ties between the two countries, the official has pointed out that Obama and Singh met with each other eight times in the last one-and-a-half years, and that in the last one month secretary of state Hillary Clinton met with foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, foreign minister S.M.Krishna, national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, defense minister A.K.Antony and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

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