Obama also called for those behind the Mumbai terror attacks to be brought to justice.
“I have made it clear that even as the US works with Pakistan to meet the threat of terrorism, safe havens within Pakistan are not acceptable and that those behind the Mumbai terrorist attack must face justice,” Obama said in an interview to the India Today weekly magazine which is to be published in its upcoming issue.
Obama, who arrives here Jan 25 on a three-day visit during which he will be the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade, said: “As president, I have made sure that the US has been unrelenting in its fight against terrorist groups — a fight in which Indians and Americans are united.”
Obama said Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the US last September was an opportunity for him to benefit from Modi’s resounding mandate in 2014 that imbued “new hopes and energy”.
“Now, Modi’s election and his commitment to a new chapter in the relationship between our countries, gives us an opportunity to further energise our partnership.”
Obama, who will be the first US president to visit India twice and the only US president to be chief guest at the Republic Day parade, said the time was opportune to realise his vision for India and US as “true global partners”.
“I’d like to think that the stars are aligned to finally realise the vision I outlined in (the Indian) parliament (during last visit) — India and America as true global partners. That’s why I accepted the generous invitation to become the first US president to attend Republic Day as chief guest,” he added. Obama in his first visit to India in 2010 had addressed the joint session of both houses of parliament.
“On the most basic level, a good India-US relationship has to be based on the same principles as our successful partnerships with our other close partners and friends around the world,” the US president said.
“That includes mutual respect, where even as we acknowledge our different histories and traditions, we value the strengths that we each bring to our relationship.
“It includes recognizing our mutual interests that both our countries will be more secure, and our people will have more jobs and opportunities, when we are working together.”
The US president said while it was true that progress has not always come as fast as both sides would have liked, “we have succeeded in deepening the US-India relationship across the board”.
“In the last few years, we have increased trade between our two countries by about 60 percent, creating more jobs for Indians and Americans,” he said, adding that the militaries of the two countries are conducting more exercises together.
Describing his India visit as “an opportunity to work with Modi to make concrete progress”, Obama hoped to embark on a new era in the history of bilateralism between the two countries.
“Forging deeper ties between our two nations has been a key part of my foreign policy since I took over office,” Obama said.
He also said that he had a strong relationship with former prime minister Manmohan Singh, whom he treated as his “close partner”.
“Given India’s strategic location, we can advance our shared security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. When India and the US work together, both our countries, and the world are more secure and prosperous,” he said.