Obama Emphasizes Cooperation During India Visit
President Obama inspects a guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential palace in New Dehli on Nov. 8, 2010.
President Obama is wrapping up a three-day stop in India, the first country he is visiting in a 10-day trip through Asia. Mr. Obama used the visit to praise India’s economic development and call for closer ties with the U.S., including a $10 billion in new trade deals, and to back India’s bid for a permanent seat on the U.N Security Council.
While the move could be years in the making, President Obama’s endorsement is likely to raise ire in Pakistan and China, according to the Washington Post. India has long sought a permanent seat on the Council. Mr. Obama made the remarks at a gathering of the Indian parliament:
Though the president’s endorsement is seen as a credibility boost, Michael Krepon of the Henry L. Stimson Center told the NewsHour that “the government of India doesn’t see eye to eye with the U.S. on a number of issues, so to think of this as one more vote for the U.S. is a mistake. India is a prickly and independent nation.”
The president is looking for closer ties on economic and security issues, much as President Bush did during his administration in visits with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which resulted in a 2005 nuclear cooperation agreement. On the economic front, trade between the two countries is increasing and “there’s a strong foundation” for further growth, according to Lisa Curtis of The Heritage Foundation. President Obama emphasized that new job creation would add, not take away, jobs for American workers. Mr. Obama told reporters in New Delhi that the goals were mutually beneficial, saying “we shouldn’t be resorting to protectionist measures. We shouldn’t be thinking that it’s just a one-way street.”
The visit also comes at a time of ongoing concern over the war in Afghanistan, and the strength of extremist groups in neighboring Pakistan. According to Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations, India is leery of the U.S.’s close ties with rival Pakistan, which it sees as being “too solicitous.”
The U.S. has worked closely with Pakistan’s government to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. Deepa Ollapally of George Washington University says India feels the U.S. should “put more pressure on Pakistan to be cooperative with India,” especially after the relatively light response to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai two years ago, which are thought to have been planned within Pakistan’s borders. On Saturday, Obama laid a wreath to commemorate victims of the Mumbai attacks.
Regional security concerns reach beyond the war in Afghanistan. With regard to China, India “being a rising democracy is important to the balance of power in east Asia,” Curtis told the Newshour. Krepon says that India has a different perspective than the U.S. on Iran’s nuclear development, not wanting to “burn bridges” or impose harsh economic sanctions.
For more in-depth coverage of the president’s visit to India, watch tonight’s NewsHour.
With reporting by Dan Sagalyn.