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US welcomes India's emergence as a force in Asia

Washington, July 19 (IANS) Ahead of his first trip to India next week, Vice President Joe Biden has said that as the US rebalances its Asia policy, it welcomes India’s emergence as a force for security and growth in the region.

“One of the reasons why President (Barack) Obama has called our relationship with India a defining partnership of the century ahead is that India is increasingly looking East as a force for security and growth in Southeast Asia and beyond,” he said Thursday.

“To us that’s welcome news,” said Biden speaking on the “US policy toward the Asia-Pacific region and India’s growing role in the region,” at George Washington University under the auspices of the Centre for American Progress, a Washington think tank.

“We encourage it. We welcome India’s engagement with the region and we welcome its efforts to develop new trade and transportation by land and by sea,” he said expounding on the reasons for the US to engage in the Asia-Pacific region.

Biden said the US wants to help create 21st century “rules of the road” to help Asian nations integrate, achieve security and prosper.

“Many nations have experienced rapid economic transformation that has fundamentally created a new dynamic, rising ambitions and rising tensions,” Biden said. “But the rules and norms that can predict to deal with both those changes, the order needed, remained incomplete.”

“Now we want to hasten the emergence of an Asian-Pacific order that delivers security and prosperity for all the nations involved”

“The lifeblood of the region is obviously economic development, but growth has slowed in India, China, in many places in Asia, and each country faces distinct and different challenge,” he noted.

“To spark new growth, there has to be fewer barriers at and behind our borders, protections for intellectual property to reward innovation, new commitments to make sure everyone plays by the same rules because that’s what attracts investment and jobs.”

“The US was engaging directly with India as it makes some fundamental choices about its own future,” Biden said noting that bilateral trade with India has increased five-fold in the last ten years reaching nearly $100 billion.

“There was no reason, if our countries make the right choices, trade cannot grow five fold or more,” he said lauding India’s lowering of caps on foreign direct investment in certain sectors.”

But “we still have a lot of work to do on a wide range of issues,” Biden said listing civil nuclear cooperation, bilateral investment treaty and policies promoting innovation.

“There is a lot of work to do,” he said. “But we believe going with an open mind and listening as well as well as making our case, it can be done.”

Speaking on the threat of climate change, Biden pointed to the expansion of the US-India Climate Change Dialogue Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to on his recent trip to New Delhi as a sign of greater cooperation between the two countries.

It was overwhelmingly in the interest of the US if India, China and the world “economy grow because we believe Asia’s success is fundamentally linked to ours,” he said as “This is not a zero-sum game.”

“The president and I are going to continue to reach across the ocean, both east and west, particularly to the indispensable Pacific nations, to help us shape a prosperous future for America, for their people and, I would argue, for the world,” he said.

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