India China Strategic Relationship Very Important – Obama to Singh

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Nov. 13 – Exactly a week after U.S. President-elect Barack Obama was declared elected, he made his first official phone call to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, firmly brushing aside speculation that India had been snubbed by America.

Obama and Singh exchanged pleasentries while highlighting Indo-U.S. ties. Singh congratulated Obama on his victory and said it would inspire "oppressed people" all over the world. Obama in turn said that the U.S.-India strategic relationship was "very important". Singh later invited the President elect to make an early visit to India.

Even before the telephone call, Singh and Obama had exchanged letters. “I received a very warm and detailed letter from him spelling out his approach to India, his approach to international affairs. Therefore, I have every reason to believe that India’s relations with the U.S. under President Obama will become stronger than ever before,” Singh told the Hindustan Times.

Mr. Obama, in his letter to Mr. Singh, wrote that broadening the friendship between India and the United States would be a “first order priority”. In spite of the warm nature of the letter, one immediate area of problem for India will be over signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Economic Times reported.

As regards the nuclear deal with India, Obama said – “I will work with the US Senate to secure ratification of the international treaty banning nuclear weapons testing at the earliest practical day, and then launch a major diplomatic initiative to ensure its entry into force”.

Recent ties between India and the United States have been on an upswing, with Singh and outgoing President George W. Bush sharing a good commeraderie. Despite the fact that most Indians were against a third term for Bush, he had elevated Indo-U.S. ties to a new level, the highest point being signing the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal in October.

It needs to be seen how Obama will escalate bilateral ties. Mr. Obama has said that his priority apart from the economy would be Iraq and Afghanistan. He has clearly indicated that the Afghan problem also includes Pakistan and India.