LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Long considered a strategic backwater from Washingtons perspective, South Asia has emerged in the 21st century as increasingly vital to core U.S. foreign policy interests. India, the regions dominant actor with more than one billion citizens, is now recognized as a nascent major power and natural partner of the United States, one that many analysts view as a potential counterweight to China s growing clout. Washington and New Delhi have since 2004 been pursuing a strategic partnership based on shared values such as democracy, multi-culturalism, and rule of law. Numerous economic, security, and global initiatives, including plans for full civilian nuclear energy cooperation, are underway. This latter initiative, launched by President Bush in July 2005 and provisionally endorsed by the 109th Congress in late 2006 P.L. 109-401, reverses three decades of U.S. nonproliferation policy. It would require, among other steps, conclusion of a peaceful nuclear agreement between the United States and India, which would itself enter into force only after a Joint Resolution of Approval by Congress. Also in 2005, the United States and India signed a ten-year defense framework agreement that calls for expanding bilateral security cooperation. Since 2002, the two countries have engaged in numerous and unprecedented combined military exercises. The issue of major U.S. arms sales to India may come before the 110th Congress. The influence of a growing and relatively wealthy Indian-American community of more than two million is reflected in Congress s largest country-specific caucus.
- Government and Political Science