January 25, 2006

SOME COUNTRIES MATTER:

U.S. Troops on Front Line Of Expanding India Ties: Post-9/11 Shift Stresses Common Interests (John Lancaster, 1/25/06, Washington Post)

The exercise is an example of the striking improvement in relations between the United States and India following decades of Cold War estrangement and more recent tensions stemming from India's nuclear tests in 1998.

Spurred by the United States, the two governments have signed commercial, scientific and military agreements in the last two years and are negotiating a controversial deal that could permit the sale of civilian nuclear technology to India. The Bush administration is eager to cultivate India as a partner in counterterrorism and, some analysts say, as a strategic counterweight to China.

The warming trend is also reflected in the surge of interest in India among U.S. business leaders such as Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft Corp., who recently announced a $1.7 billion investment in the country, the latest in a string of such commitments by U.S. technology firms eager to cash in on India's booming economy and surplus of inexpensive brainpower.

Other indicators include the parade of U.S. lawmakers through New Delhi in recent months and steadily expanding commercial air links. In addition, a record number of Indian students -- more than 80,000 -- are studying at U.S. universities, according to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

President Bush is scheduled to visit India for the first time in early March at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a self-effacing economist who met with Bush at the White House last July. In New Delhi on Friday, Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said the planned visit is "really reflective of the very significant transformation that has taken place, and is taking place, in India-U.S. relations."

Saran was speaking at a news conference after meetings with Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, who was making his third visit to the Indian capital in the last six months. "India is one of the few countries in the world that has the capability to act globally and has the same basic interests as the United States," Burns said in a telephone interview from New Delhi.


MORE:
Saudi king on rare visit to India
Saudi king
(BBC, 1/25/06)

King Abdullah is the first Saudi king to visit India in 51 years and will be the guest of honour at Republic Day celebrations on Thursday.

His visit is seen as very significant with both countries keen to build ties.

India's growing economy is fuelling greater energy needs and Saudi Arabia supplies a quarter of its oil.

"I consider myself to be in my second homeland," King Abdullah said soon after his arrival.

"The relationship between India and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an historic one, we have been old friends and, God willing, this visit will renew these historic ties."

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 25, 2006 8:32 AM
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