Washington: The United States would prefer India to move away from its long-term history of non-alignment G77 partnership with Russia, the Biden Administration has told lawmakers, observing that there is a great opportunity for defence trade with India.

America’s relationship with India is a very critical one, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee during a Congressional hearing early this week.

They are the largest democracy in the world. We have a strong defence relationship with them. They are part of the Quad, with Australia and Japan, and we are moving forward on many achievements that are critical to Indo-Pacific prosperity and security, she said.

We, obviously, would prefer that India move away from their long-term history of non-alignment G77 partnership with Russia, Sherman said in response to a question from Congressman Tim Burchett.

The United States, she said, has told Indians that it will be very hard for them now to get spare parts or to get them replaced from Russia because of the sanctions.

They have increased their defence relationship with us, and defence sales, and co-production efforts. And I think this is a great opportunity for that to surge in the years ahead, she said.

I’m wondering, will India’s neutrality in Russia’s war on Ukraine and the country’s general friendship with Russia have any effect on our policy towards India? US policy towards India, I guess I should say, Burchett asked.

Congressman Joe Wilson also asked about India’s position on Ukraine. The world’s largest democracy should be standing firm with the other democracies, he said.

We’re in a conflict that has been identified by President Biden as totalitarianism against democracies. And so, either we stand for democracy’s rule of law or we’ll be facing around the world destabilization by governments that are the rule of the gun, he said.

And so, how can we make an effort to replace the oil that India depends on and the military equipment that they depend on from Putin? This is just so illogical for the extraordinary country of India, the wonderful people of India, to be overlooking abstaining. That’s incredible. That’s such an insult to the people of India, Wilson said.

America’s relationship with India, the world’s largest democracy, is critical in so many areas, Sherman said.

We have had very direct conversations with them about how we can address their very legitimate needs for their country, she added.

I think that there’s progress being made to see what we can do to be supportive to them, while, at the same time, urging them to be more forthright regarding what’s happening in Ukraine, Sherman said.

I did note that they made comments, not surprising, about the horrors that have taken place in Bucha. And so, I think we just have to keep working at this relationship and understanding the complexity of it, and helping to support India to really understand what is in their national security interests, said the top American diplomat.

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