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India and US have firm foundation of strategic alignment: Condoleezza Rice

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Washington, May 14 (PTI) India and the US have a firm foundation of strategic alignment that whoever comes to power in either of the countries, after their respective elections this year, the relationship will see an upward trajectory, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said.

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The US will hold the presidential election on November 5 while a new government in India will be formed next month after the ongoing general elections.

“I think that whoever is elected in India, whoever is elected in the United States, we have such a firm foundation of strategic alignment that it may sound different from time to time, but I'm enough of a political scientist still to believe that countries do ultimately follow their interests,” Rice said last week.

Rice was responding to a question during a panel discussion “Strengthening Trust With India: Implications Of The 2008 US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement” organised by the Hoover Institute and Stanford University in California on May 6, the video of which was released on Monday.

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“Our interests are very much aligned. Our values are also aligned if you have the notion that you're a democracy and you have a long history of that. But most importantly, as I said, our convergence of interest is just unassailable at this point. So I expect this to be bipartisan whoever wins,” Rice said in response to a question on the status of the India-US relationship.

Rice, 69, told the audience that the upward trajectory of this relationship started during the prime ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Rice, who served as the secretary of state from 2005 to 2009 and as the national security advisor from 2001 to 2005, played a crucial role in the India-U.S. relationship during the Bush Administration.

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“As hard as it was, it also was a positive step for the future. And when you're dealing with the world that we were dealing with post 9/11, it was great actually to be working with a democracy where there was a future of a strategic relationship that looked incredibly promising,” she said.

“Even though we knew it was going to be very, very difficult, and I should just mention others may mention this, it wasn't just the negotiations with India, you also had to bring the rest of the world along because India was outside of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and so there were lots of countries that didn't want this to happen,” she said.

“You also had to bring along the Congress. We had to have a change in US law to make this possible. But when you're dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan and 9/11, India's kind of a good thing to get up and work on in the morning. So, it was great to have something so positive or potentially so positive,” Rice said.

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Former national security advisor, M K Narayanan said the genesis of the civic nuclear deal was the meeting between the then prime minister Manmohan Singh and former president George Bush in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

During the meeting, Singh asked Bush to help him resolve India’s energy crisis by helping him through nuclear energy.

“President Bush said, what can I do for you? He said we have a problem with energy. He said the cost of every barrel is going up almost day by day. So we have a fairly strong nuclear energy establishment. If you can help us overcome the many embargoes that have been put on us, that would help us. He had a very, very limited request. What finally transformed is different, it became the bedrock of India-US relations, something which I think has never happened before, at least in recent centuries,” Narayanan said.

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Former foreign secretary and national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon said the nuclear deal fit in with India's basic strategic positioning and goals.

“Because what's the purpose of foreign policy to help transform India into a modern, prosperous, secure country,” he said.

“There's no way that we can do that if we have an indifferent relationship with the US or just a sort of modus vivendi where we somehow or the other get along. There is an Indian strategic interest in having a good solid relationship with the US and frankly, the Indian people understood this I think long before the politicians did in India,” he said. PTI LKJ PY AKJ PY PY

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