President Donald Trump wants to take Indo-US ties to the next level, American envoy to the UN Nikki Haley said on Thursday.
“The Trump Administration seeks to take the US-India relationship to the next level; to build a strategic partnership rooted in our common values and directed toward our common interests,” she said in her address organised by think-tank Observer Research Foundation in the national capital.
The Indian-origin US leader is on a three-day visit to India.
Speaking on advancing bilateral relations, Haley said the two countries will stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” in confronting regional and global challenges.
The US envoy also spoke on the contentious issue of immigration amid an uproar over detention of scores of people in the US, including Indians, for illegally entering the country.
America is a country of immigrants, but it cannot allow illegal immigration in view of the challenge of terrorism, Haley said, adding the US is trying to find a way to know exactly who is coming in the country to properly secure its people.
Haley’s remarks come amid the issue of a group of 52 Indians, mostly Sikhs, being held at a detention centre in the US State of Oregon for being part of a large contingent of illegal immigrants seeking asylum. She lauded the Indian-American community, saying they had given so much to themselves and to their new country.
Haley also said that India and the US enjoy a natural friendship that is based on their shared values and interests.
Noting that in the past years, India has joined three major non-proliferation groupings, she said the US also fully supports India’s membership bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
“India continues to demonstrate it is a responsible steward of its nuclear technology,” she said.
Asserting that there was also great opportunity for the US to help meet India’s energy needs, she said there was room for progress on civil nuclear cooperation.
Noting that the US-India military partnership was deepening, Haley said America had significantly upgraded its security cooperation with India, which was now Washington’s major defence partner.
Her remarks come a day after the US conveyed to India that it had postponed the 2+2 dialogue scheduled to be held in Washington next week, due to “unavoidable reasons”.
“When America’s and India’s defence and foreign ministers meet they will discuss ways the United States can continue to support India as a provider of regional security, particularly in and around the Indian Ocean,” she said.
Underlining the importance of the Indo-Pacific which is home to many of the world’s fastest-growing economies, Haley said it was essential to use every tool to foster continued prosperity, peace, and security throughout the region.
Recalling Modi’s speech at the Shangri La Dialogue earlier this month, she said he spoke compellingly about India’s vision for the region, which included a vision of sovereign countries pursuing growth in “free and fearless in their choices”.
“President Trump shares that vision. A free and open Indo-Pacific region is central to that vision. America’s vision of the Indo-Pacific future is aspirational, but it is also realistic,” she said.
Noting that not all nations in the region embrace the values India and the US share, she said the American vision for the region was inclusive.
Her remarks come amid growing Chinese assertiveness in the region.
Haley said China was also an important country in the region, but, unlike India, it does not share the US’ commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental freedoms.
“This makes China’s expansion of loans and investments in countries in the region a matter of concern for many of us. China’s failure to respect the rights of its people and the rule of law will limit its own ability to grow and prosper over the long term. And unlike with India, this will limit the United States’ relationship with China,” she said.
She said India and a strengthened Indo-US partnership were at the centre of the notion of seeking for every country the ability and opportunity to interact as a sovereign and equal nation.
“Perhaps no other partnership has as much potential for global peace and prosperity over the next 10, 20, or 50 years,” Haley said.
She exuded confidence that in the years to come, the US and India will stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” in many ways to confront the challenges of the Indo-Pacific region and the world.
Haley asserted that countries that honour and respect the voice of their people do not threaten peace and security, they uphold it.
She highlighted that in the trouble spots in the world, often there are countries that do not respect the will of their people, as she mentioned South Sudan, North Korea and Iran in this context.
Describing Iran as a “theocratic dictatorship” that abuses its people, funds terrorism, and spreads conflict throughout the Middle East, she said the Tehran regime was the hidden, and sometimes not-so-hidden, force behind most of the conflict in the region.
“And its aggressive ambitions reach much further abroad. Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon threatens all of us,” she said.
(With PTI inputs)