India should be an integral part of America’s Asia policy: US Congressman


Asserting that India should be an integral part of America’s Asia policy, a Congressman from New York has urged the Obama administration to strengthen its ties with New Delhi. “From a strategic perspective, India is a potential counterweight to China’s growing regional influence in Asia. They’ve become increasingly vocal on issues like freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean region”, US lawmaker Eliot Engel said during a Congressional hearing. Speaking during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Challenges and Opportunities in Asia, the Congressman said, “As the world’s third largest economy, India has the potential to become a major economic player in East Asia, and is already playing a constructive role in maritime issues”.

“The US-India relationship is important, it’s growing, in particular on the defense side, and Prime Minister Modi will be coming to Washington again in a couple of months to meet with President Obama”, Mr Engel said. “It’s the third largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity and is the largest democracy in the Asia region”. The call for stronger ties with India comes amidst China’s s growing influence in Asia.

Mr Engel is one of the US lawmakers who had requested the US House Speaker Paul Ryan to invite India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the Congress. Mr Ryan has invited Mr Modi to address a joint meeting of the Congress when he visits the US capital in June. “In the last few years, the long relationship between the United States and India has grown even stronger. Our collaboration on issues from climate change and the environment to defense to economic growth shows just how many concerns our countries share”, Mr Engel had said while welcoming the US decision to invite Mr Modi to address the Congress.

In response, US Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the Obama administration strongly shares lawmakers’ view on the importance of India, both in and of itself, but also as a part of the region and as an increasingly vital regional actor.