June 20, 2007 11:03 IST
United States Senator Barack Obama, during his exclusive interview with rediff.com on Monday, where he apologised for his campaign's circulation of a memo attacking his Democratic rival Senator Hillary Clinton's Indian links, said he is "absolutely committed," to the US-India relationship and the envisaged strategic partnership between the two countries.
Obama, who represents the state of Illinois and is a member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Commitee, who voted in favor of the US-India civilian nuclear agreement in the Senate although he had expressed some misgivings centered on non-proliferation concerns, pointed out, "As I have said publicly many times, the United States has a strong interest in making sure that economic growth is continuing in India, that workers in India have increased opportunity."
The document, which his campaign had put out and created an uproar in the Indian-American community, had attacked Hillary Clinton's record on outsourcing, on protecting American jobs, in addition to casting aspersions on Indian-American fundraiser of her campaign, and had dubbed her the Democrat from Punjab.
However, in the interview, speaking of US-India relations, Obama declared, "India is one of our most important allies in the world and will be increasing in importance as times goes on."
"Our economies are very integrated, we share many cultural affinities -- we are both democracies that are committed to the rule of law -- and it is imperative for the United States and the global economy to see India succeed," he said.
Thus, Obama emphasised, "My commitment to this relationship will remain unwavering."
His campaign's memo attacking Senator Clinton's Indian links fugured at the daily White House briefing too, when an Indian-American reporter asked spokesman Tony Snow to comment on what the reporter said was Obama and his campaign calling the Indian-American community names because of their association with the Clintons.
"What does President (Bush) think about the Indian-American community and his relations with the Indian-American community?" the reporter asked.
Snow said, "The President, obviously is proud of our -- the growing closeness -- of the United States and the Indians."
But disputing the reporter's contention that the Obama campaign had been calling the Indian-American community names, Snow said, "Not to be holding a brief for Senator Obama, but I don't believe that he made comments of that sort."
"I do believe that was a staff comment for which he issues apologies. But having said that, it is important to realise that the United States looks upon India as the world's largest democracy, as an important and vital ally in a whole host of things -- regional security, global trade, climate change, I mean the role of -- the importance of India is not to be understated," the spokesman said.