Prime News, National (New Delhi), October 20:- India stands ready to further strengthen ties with the United States, the government said on Friday, after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson vowed to dramatically expand cooperation as a way to counter China’s influence in Asia.
Tillerson, who is visiting India next week, said in a speech the United States had begun to discuss alternatives to Chinese infrastructure financing in Asia that critics say has spawned resentment and fears of a debt trap.
He also called for expanding the scope of security cooperation between India, the United States and Japan to include other countries such as Australia, a plan that China has said in the past would be de-stabilising to the region.
A Foreign Ministry spokesperson in New Delhi said Mr Tillerson had made an important speech on the future of India-US relations and that New Delhi looked forward to detailed discussions next week.
“We appreciate his positive evaluation of the relationship and share his optimism about its future directions,” the spokesperson said.
Tillerson did not say what he meant by creating an alternative to Chinese infrastructure financing, which New Delhi has also been increasingly concerned about as China seeks to build trade and transport links in Asia.
The government warned that China’s plans for a modern-day “Silk Road” could create an “unsustainable debt burden” for countries.
The foreign ministry spokesman said India agreed with Mr Tillerson’s call for a “rules-based” international order that is seen as under risk from China’s assertive posture in Asia.
The United States has repeatedly criticised China for disregarding international law with the construction and militarisation of artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, where neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have claims. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).