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India, the lucky dog in U.S.-Russia rivalry

(People's Daily Online)    10:25, January 31, 2015

U.S. president Barack Obama has elevated India to "potentially the best partner” of America, in a public speech at the end of a three-day visit that has marked a rapid US rapprochement with India.

Just a month ago, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India, more than 20 agreements were signed between the two “traditional allies”.

Nowadays, India seems to have become the world's "meat and potatoes". It welcomes the U.S.-Russia rivalry as it graciously accepts the advances of both the ardent suitors.

After a first visit to India in 2010, Barack Obama paid a state visit to India again on January 25 to 27, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit India twice.

Obama's trip to India can be described as fruitful-- attending the military parade of the Republic of India; signing a civil nuclear cooperation agreement between the two countries, offering support for India to become a permanent member of the Security Council... Indian Prime Minister Modi also played down any previous rift and the two sides showed unprecedented enthusiasm.

Just a month ago, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India, more than 20 agreements were signed, covering spheres such as defense cooperation, oil and gas, and trade.

With U.S.-Russia relations deteriorating to Cold War levels, Obama hopes to balance Moscow's influence in India, CNN reports.

In this regard, a week before US President Barack Obama's visit to New Delhi, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held his first meeting with new Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, which included discussions on the co-production of the Kamov 226 light utility helicopter and resolving disagreements over the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, reported Defense News.

In a congratulatory message to the President and the Prime Minister of India, Russian President Vladimir Putin re-emphasised that Russia “highly values the relationship of special and privileged strategic partnership” between the two countries on the occasion of the national day of India – the Republic Day.

India and the United States continue the rapprochement, and the United States hopes to achieve a breakthrough in the field of nuclear cooperation, said Jiang Jingkui, Chairman of the Department of South Asian Studies in Peking University. At the same time, the U.S. is a major exporter of sophisticated weaponry, meaning that India will no longer have all its military eggs in one basket. In addition, the Modi government also wants help from the U.S. to achieve a four -fold increase in Indian solar power capacity.

Some analysts judge that while India and the United States currently seem to be achieving reconciliation, the two sides still hold differences over the Pakistan issue and transfer of advanced technology.

In a similar vein, Indian-Russian relations are also less than perfect. As the Guardian quoted the view of an Indian scholar that some major structural problems exist in the bilateral ties. The current value of bilateral trade between thee two countries - $10 billion - is "well below the potential".

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in no rush to discard India’s long-term foreign policy of nonalignment in favor of a sharper strategic focus,” said Jiang Jingkui.

In the near future, it is most likely to be in India's best interests to take advantage of the current favorable situation, seeking a strategic balance between the two great powers, and striving to gain as much as possible for itself.

The article is edited and translated by Gao Yinan from Chinese version of《美俄较劲印度成了“香饽饽”》, author: Yan Yu, Wang Yu


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Huang Jin,Bianji)

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