A tea-seller's son can head a country only in India, US: Hagel

A tea-seller's son can head a country only in India, US: Hagel

Seeking to draw parallels between India and the US, American Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel today said there are few places in the world other than the two democratic countries where a tea-seller's son can become the Prime Minister or a Kenyan's child can become the President.

"There are few places in the world other than India and the US where the son of a tea-seller in a small-time town can rise to be the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) or the child of a Kenyan father can rise to be the President (Barack Obama)," he said while talking about the opportunities available in the two countries.

The American Defence Secretary was speaking at the Silver Jubilee function of the Observer's Research Foundation (ORF).

Before joining politics and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Modi used to sell tea in trains and help his father run a small tea stall in a town in Gujarat.
Obama's father was of Kenyan origin and his mother an American citizen.

The US today said India does not need to choose between its ties with Washington and China and should avoid seeing Beijing as a rival.

Addressing a gathering here, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested that India and America should expand their defence ties and include Japan in their security cooperation partnership.

"Just like the US need not choose between its Asian alliances and its constructive relationship with China, similarly India need not choose between its closer relationship with America and improved ties with China.

"In our relations with Beijing, both Delhi and Washington, should see a healthy competition and we should avoid the traps of rivalry," he said at an Observer Research Foundation function here.

Hagel said the US wants to work for a peaceful global order in which "China was also a trustee" and both India and America should continue to work with it in the future.

Referring to the disputed South China Sea, he said both India and the US favour a peaceful resolution of disputes and are for the freedom of navigation in the seas.

The US Defence Secretary said Indian and American security interests converge as "India continues to look east and the US pursues strategic re-balance. These things headline the convergence of interests of our two nations."

He said as the security considerations of India and the US converge, "the two countries should also converge their partnerships. India and the US should consider expanding their trilateral security cooperation with Japan. We should have trilateral defence cooperation at the ministerial level."

Hagel said the three countries recently participated in the trilateral Malabar series exercise off the coast of Japan in the Pacific.

He said the US would also help to facilitate India's rise as a global power.

"We are working to expand the role of G20 and call for India to be a permanent member of the reformed UN Security Council," Hagel said.

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