India is South Asia's economic powerhouse: US

"We have a deep, abiding relationship with India that functions constructively on so many levels, and also a deep, abiding respect for Indian culture and for the Indian people, the world's largest democracy and economic powerhouse in South Asia," State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters Monday.


Referring to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao here Friday in preparation for Obama's visit, he said "they discussed the wide range of issues that are integral to our strategic partnership" but gave no details.

Meanwhile, America's second top diplomat has said the strategic bilateral dialogue that the US is having with India would be very much on display during Obama's visit to India in early November.

"It is important also to stress the enhanced strategic dialogue that we now have with India, which has taken place on two rounds and which will be very much on display when the president visits India in a few months time," US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said in a speech Monday.

Friday's Clinton-Rao meeting was intended to "show the breadth of that relationship and the increasing importance that we attach to that comprehensive partnership, as we call it", he said in his speech on "Impact of US-China Relations in Asia".

The US recognises the new emerging nations would be an important part of the international stage, he said.

"They represent a significant enhancement of the capacity of the international community to meet the kinds of challenges that we're talking about. We don't see their rise as a zero-sum game that necessarily diminishes US interests or inevitably leads to a rivalry or competition, but we recognise that there are risks in that direction," he said.

Therefore, the US has to work hard not just with China and India and Russia, but also some of the other critical emerging powers like Indonesia, he said.

"And that's why we focused very much during this administration on strengthening dialogue between these partners, because we recognise that in order to get the positive-sum benefits and enhance the prospect of a good result over time, we need to deepen dialogue," Steinberg argued.

"The more America embeds its relationships in these, the more confidence it gives to others that its enhanced relationship with key powers like India and China or Russia will not come at the expense of smaller powers," he said.

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