‘There are real differences between me and Obama on issues that matter greatly to India’
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What are your priorities for the U.S.-India relationship?
I have high hopes for U.S.-India relations and I believe that India is already one of our most important international partners. We have a wide range of overlapping interests in Asia and the Middle-East, on energy, and in sustaining the open international economy that is a source of prosperity to both our countries. We can also work more closely together on counterterrorism — many Americans don't realise that India has been a leading victim of terrorism for many years. Beyond our official relationship, we can do much more to encourage the already rich people-to-people ties that are a source of great strength in our relationship. My priorities as President, therefore, would be the following: one, to build up U.S.-Indian security cooperation to include better cooperation on counterterrorism; two, to deepen economic ties, including completion of a bilateral investment treaty; three, to increase U.S.-Indian collaboration in energy, education, agriculture and science; and four, to work more closely on "the war of ideas," especially the values of democracy, liberalism, and open markets, which, as India demonstrates, are not the preserve of the West or the United States alone.
What are the major differences between you and Barack Obama on South Asia?
I strongly supported the civilian nuclear agreement with India. My opponent, by contrast, offered a "poison pill" amendment during Senate consideration that would have killed the agreement. Senator Obama has suggested that the United States "renegotiate" the NAFTA trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. If he is willing to employ such protectionist unilateralism with some of our closest trading partners, how would he approach trade with India, which has a vital stake in free flows of trade and finance as it modernises? I support increasing the cap on H-1B visas, so that hard-working high technology workers and entrepreneurs from India and other countries can contribute to our economy. My vision for America reflects, I believe, the values of the Indian-American community and of India itself: a free and tolerant society that celebrates its unity amidst its diversity; a vibrant economy based on open competition, fiscal discipline, and global trade; and, a commitment to defeating extremist groups. So I think there are real differences between me and my opponent on issues that matter greatly to India.
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