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It’s in America’s interest to strengthen ties with India: top U.S. official

‘As two great democracies, we should demonstrate through our example why democracy promotes peace, stability and personal freedoms’, says Donald Lu

It is in America’s national interest to continue to strengthen its fast-growing strategic, economic and people-to-people ties with India, a senior US diplomat nominated by President Joe Biden to be his point person for South and Central Asia has told lawmakers.

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Donald Lu, who has been nominated to be the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday that as two great Indo-Pacific powers, “we must strive to ensure that our Asian partners remain sovereign and free, and not dominated by a single power”.

“It is in our national interest to continue to strengthen our fast-growing strategic, economic and people-to-people ties with India, while also speaking forthrightly about human rights and our democratic values,” he said.

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“As two great democracies, we should demonstrate through our example why democracy promotes peace, stability and personal freedoms,” Mr. Lu said.

During his 30 years in the State Department, he has worked in India, Pakistan and Central Asia.

“And as two great free-market economies, we can build a more stable and inclusive global economy. As the producer of 60 per cent of the world’s vaccines, India is critical to the global fight against COVID-19, and if confirmed, I would work with India to end this devastating pandemic. And I commit to working with India and our partners to tackle the climate crisis,” Mr. Lu said in his testimony.

Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that America’s relationship with India is growing, bolstered by a vibrant Indian-American community here in the United States.

“I expect our diplomats to deepen this relationship while remaining true to our core values and raising concerns as necessary. In Bangladesh, I continue to advocate for labour rights and the establishment of unions to ensure that workers in every sector can work in safe conditions,” he said.

In his testimony, Mr. Lu said that the U.S. has more than 20 years of its defined relations with Pakistan through the prism of counter-terrorism and security.

“If confirmed, I will build on our long history of friendship with Pakistan to advance human rights, religious freedom, counter-terrorism cooperation and an improved business environment for American investors,” he added.

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