Appreciate Tillerson's 'positive evaluation' of India-US ties, says MEA

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Mr Tillerson's remarks put India in a delicate situation, coming as they do towards the end of a year in which New Delhi's relationship with Beijing has been particularly fraught.

Pakistan was the main USA ally in South Asia for decades, but USA officials are frustrated with what they charge has been Pakistan's failure to cut support for the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, where the administration wants India to play a bigger role in economic development. "As we look ahead, there is room to invite others, including Australia, to build on the shared objectives and initiatives", he said.

In Doha (Capital of Qatar), he will meet with Qatari leaders and US military officials to discuss joint counterterrorism efforts, the ongoing Gulf dispute, and other regional and bilateral issues, including Iran and Iraq.

Speaking less than a month before President Donald Trump is due to make his first state visit to China, Tillerson said the United States had begun to discuss creating alternatives to Chinese infrastructure financing in Asia.

"China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the worldwide, rules-based order even as countries like India operate within a framework that protects other nations" sovereignty", Tillerson, who will be visiting New Delhi next week, said while delivering an address on "Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century'.

India on Friday welcomed the statement of American Secretary of State and said that it shared with the USA the commitment to a rule-based global order.

And in response to a question after the talk, Tillerson said that while the relationship with China was important, "We'll never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society, that we can have with a major democracy".

In terms of U.S. -India ties, Lu also welcomed "the development of normal and friendly" relations, "as long as it is conducive to regional peace and stability and enhancing mutual trust between regional countries".

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"The Secretary's visit to India will advance the ambitious agenda laid out by President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Prime Minister's visit to the White House in June", State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

There are other sources of tension between the two countries as well.

"For many decades the United States has supported China's rise", said the official.

"The United States seeks constructive relations with China, but we will not shrink from China's challenges to the rules-based order and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighboring countries and disadvantages the U.S. and our friends", Tillerson said.

The duties were meant to correct a fundamental trade imbalance, said S K Mohanty, a New Delhi-based economist who specialises in India-China relations.

He said Chinese financing was saddling countries with "enormous" debts and failing to create jobs.

"It is misleading to interpret the relationship between China and the US through the lens of the power shifting theory", Cui argued.

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