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India to be friends with China, US: PM

Delhi,Diplomacy,Business/Economy,Defence/Security, Sat, 24 Mar 2012 IANS

New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) Large and dynamic countries like China cannot be contained, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, making it clear that India aims to have "cooperative ties with both China and the US".


"I do not think that large and dynamic countries like China can be contained," Singh said in an interview to South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo ahead of his visit to Seoul.


for a bilateral meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Sunday.


Singh will take part at the Nuclear Security Summit that will be attended by 58 leaders including US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.


The meeting will discuss the threats posed by nuclear terrorism and the measures required to prevent terrorists from gaining access to sensitive nuclear material and technologies.


"Our aim is to have cooperative ties with both China and US," the prime minister said when he was asked if India thought the US was keeping China in check and if Delhi had ever been forced to choose between Washington and Beijing.


Singh said China was India's largest neighbour, sharing a long border. "It is also our biggest trading partner in goods," he said.


With the US, he said, India's relations were transformed in 2005. It was in July that year that Singh and then US president George W. Bush laid the framework for the India-US civil nuclear agreement.


"Three million people of Indian origin live and work in the US. The country is also India's largest business partner," Manmohan Singh said.


Asked about the agenda for his meeting with the South Korean president, Singh said the two sides will talk about "giving depth and greater meaning" to the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, strengthen people-to-people contacts, boost cooperation in science and technology, and coordinate thinking in matters relating to security and global events.


"Since this is an occasion which coincides with Nuclear Security Summit, we can work together to promote nuclear security and safety in this world that we live in," he added.


To a question on the delayed Pohang Steel Co (POSCO) industrial project in Odisha due to protests and environment concerns, Singh said: "It is my sincere hope the issues pertaining to the POSCO project would be resolved soon to the satisfaction of all parties."


Regarding a Wall Street Journal report that India's red tape and corruption were discouraging foreign investment, he said: "Outside observers often tend to take a narrow view of our economic policies. India is a far more open economy today than it was earlier.


"We are governed by the rule of law, and as a functioning democracy, we need to be mindful of the concerns and sensitivities of all sections and stake-holders and take their interests into account."


He added that India planned to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure development in areas like highways, airports, power plants, mass transport systems and so on, in next five years.


"We would like to see more South Korean companies come to India and take advantage of our youthful and skilled labour force. Opportunities in India are wide open."


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