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India-US relationship "is the most important bilateral relationship for the US in 21st century": White House official

Washington: Kurt Campbell, Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific on Friday, highlighted the strong bilateral relations between India and US at an event of the Center for New American Security (CNAS).

"India is a great power. It's not an ally of the US and never be an ally of the United States. But it does not mean that we will not be close partners. And that's why we need to understand the role that India will play as a great nation on the global stage. We want to encourage that and support that and deepen this relationship which is already, probably the strongest people-to-people relationship of any country that the United States has on the global stage," said Campbell. Campbell said that the India-US relationship "is the most important bilateral relationship for the United States in the 21st century."

Responding to a question, he said there has been an exponential increase in engagement in virtually every area.
"We just concluded discussions in a form called ICET in which the Indian National Security Advisor brought the highest-ranking group of Indian technologists ever to come to any country, and came to the United States to talk about how to partner on areas going forward," said Campbell.
"We're working more on defence-related issues on people to people. We want more Indian students in our universities. We want more American students in Indian universities. We want more people-to-people, university partnerships more generally, and health partnerships. We have just announced efforts to work together in space. So the agenda is extraordinarily rich. The ambitions are high," he added.

Reiterating that Washington is destined to work more closely with New Delhi, Campbell talked about heightened tension between India and China and said, "What we have seen over the last five or ten years, is a series of actions that have challenged the global Order and that have raised questions about China's goal and ambition. Not just in one or two places, in a variety of places. I began by talking about the India - China border. Some of the steps that China has taken along this vast border have been provocative and deeply concerning to Indian partners and friends."

The think tank -- Centre for a New American Security -- in a report said that the India-China border intrusions and clashes have become more frequent and threaten to lead to all-out conflict.

The increased prospect of India-China border hostility has implications for the United States and its Indo-Pacific strategy between the two Asian giants, it said.

The think tank's report, authored by Lisa Curtis and Derek Grossman, has made several recommendations to help deter and respond to further Chinese aggression along the border with India.

This includes the US offering India the sophisticated military technology it requires to defend its borders and initiate the coproduction and co-development of military equipment and assist India in strengthening its maritime and naval capacity.

The think tank also urged the US to conduct joint intelligence reviews with India to align assessments of Chinese plans and intentions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and enhance coordination with Indian officials.

Heightened tensions between the United States and China reflect a new phase of relations between the two powerful states, and acknowledging the fact, Campbell said that the Biden administration's efforts to find areas of cooperation with Beijing have failed so far.
"We do believe we're in the early stages of a new phase of our relationship between Washington and Beijing," said Campbell to Washington think tank.

The new approach to relations with China is not through direct diplomacy but through organizing and strengthening alliances and partnerships in the region, he said, noting that the United States is "here to stay" in the Indo-Pacific region.
China's actions over the past decade have "challenged the global order" and included what US officials say are provocative activities by the Chinese military in areas stretching from India's border to the South China Sea northward toward Japan. Beijing is seeking to alter the "operating system" that has kept peace in Asia for decades, Campbell said. (ANI)

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