A top White House adviser attempted to ease troubled ties between the United States and India on Friday, saying the two countries should not allow the dispute over an Indian diplomat to “derail the future we are working diligently to build.” The diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, was arrested on Dec. 12 on charges of visa fraud and lying to U.S. authorities about what she paid her housekeeper. She was stripped-searched in a Manhattan federal courthouse, an incident that triggered a major rift between India and the United States.
President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, addressing the Aspen Institute U.S.-India Dialogue, said recent events had drawn more attention to disagreements than cooperative efforts. “But those difficulties should be minor compared to the breadth of our relationship and the magnitude of what we can accomplish together. We must also deal with our differences in a constructive manner, commensurate with a relationship of this importance,” she said.
The two countries cooperate on a wide range of issues including counter-terrorism, regional security and defense. India is also a major market for U.S. weapons. “We cannot allow such challenges to derail the future we are working diligently to build – a future of greater prosperity, greater security, and consistent adherence to our shared values,” Rice said.
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Rice also said the United States is confident that, whatever the outcome of India’s upcoming national elections, the cooperation and strategic partnership between the two nations will continue to grow.