US-India relationship among the world's most important: CRS

"President Barack Obama's Administration has sought to build upon the deepened US engagement with India begun by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and expanded upon during much of the past decade under President G W Bush,"the Congressional Research Service (CRS) in its latest report 'India: Domestic Issues, Strategic Dynamics and US Relations.'

An independent and bipartisan wing of the US Congress,the CRS prepares periodic reports on issues of interest to the US lawmakers.

The 94-page report was released by the CRS for US lawmakers on September 1, a copy of which made public by the Federation of American Scientists yesterday.

"This US-India diplomacy was most recently on display in July 2011, when the second US-India Strategic Dialogue session saw a large delegation of senior US officials visit New Delhi to discuss a broad range of global and bilateral issues," it said.

"Many analysts view the US-India relationship as being among the world's most important in coming decades and see potentially large benefits to be accrued through engagement on many convergent interests. Bilateral initiatives are underway in all areas, although independent analysts in both countries worry that the partnership has lost momentum in recent years," the CRS report said."Outstanding areas of bilateral friction include obstacles to bilateral trade and investment, including in the high-technology sector; outsourcing; the status of conflict in Afghanistan; climate change; and stalled efforts to initiate civil nuclear cooperation," the Congressional report said.

Observing that South Asia emerged in the 21st century as increasingly vital to core US foreign policy interests, CRS said India, the region's dominant actor with more than one billion citizens, is often characterised as a nascent great power and 'indispensable partner' of the US, one that many analysts view as a potential counterweight to China's growing clout.

Since 2004, Washington and New Delhi have been pursuing a "strategic partnership" based on shared values and apparently convergent geopolitical interests, it said, adding numerous economic, security, and global initiatives, including plans for civilian nuclear cooperation, are underway.

The latter initiative — first launched in 2005 and codified in US law in 2008 — reversed three decades of US non-proliferation policy, but has not been implemented to date.
Also in 2005, the US and India signed a 10 year defense framework agreement to expanding bilateral security cooperation.

The two countries now engage in numerous and unprecedented combined military exercises, and major US arms sales to India are underway.

"The value of all bilateral trade tripled from 2004 to 2008 and continues to grow; significant two-way investment also flourishes. The influence of a large, relatively wealthy, and increasingly influential Indian-American community is reflected in Congress's largest country specific caucus. More than 100,000 Indian students are attending American universities," the report said.

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