NEW DELHI — By endorsing India for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, President Barack Obama on Monday signaled the United States’ intention to create a deeper partnership of the world’s two largest democracies that would expand commercial ties and check the influence of an increasingly assertive China.
Obama’s announcement, made during a nationally televised address to the Indian Parliament, came at the end of a three-day visit to India that won high marks from an Indian political establishment once uncertain of the president’s commitment to the relationship. Even as stark differences remained between the countries on a range of tough issues, including Pakistan, trade policy, climate change and, to some degree, Iran, Obama spoke of India as an “indispensable” partner for the coming century.
“In Asia and around the world, India is not simply emerging,” he said during his speech in Parliament. “India has emerged.”
Obama’s closer embrace of India prompted a sharp warning from Pakistan, India’s rival and an uncertain U.S. ally in the war in Afghanistan, which criticized the two countries for engaging in “power politics” that lacked a moral foundation.
It is also likely to set off fresh concerns in Beijing, which has had a contentious relationship with India and has expressed alarm at U.S. efforts to tighten alliances with Asian nations wary of China’s rising power.
But warmer ties between the United States and India, in the making for many years, come at a crucial time for Obama. He and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are headed to South Korea later this week for a meeting of the Group of 20.