Melbourne: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has lauded India as an important player in the Indo-Pacific region and has also urged New Delhi to play a larger role in the region's affairs.
Hilary Clinton, who is in Perth for high-level talks with Julia Gillard-led government, also applauded the upswing in Australia's bilateral ties with the "world's largest democracy" India. She has encouraged Australia to increase military co-operation with India.
Clinton's Perth speech at University of Western Australia has been noted by the political pundits as another step towards forming of a tripartite alliance between her country, India and Australia.
"We would welcome joint Australian-Indian naval vessel exercises in the future and we are eager to work together in the Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (the organisation of 19 Indian Ocean rim countries) which Australia will chair in 2013 and which the United States has now joined as a dialogue partner," Hilary Clinton said. "Increasingly, these waters are at the heart of the global economy and a key focus of America's expanding engagement in the region - what we sometimes call our pivot to Asia," Clinton said while referring to the importance of Indian Ocean in the international affairs.
Interestingly, while India figured prominently in Hillary Clinton's speech, China, Australia's largest trading partner, was mentioned briefly.
"We look for ways to support the peaceful rise of China, to support China becoming a responsible stakeholder in the international community," she said.
"And (we) hope to see gradual but consistent opening up of a Chinese society and political system that will more closely give the Chinese people the opportunities that we in the United States and Australia are lucky to take for granted," Clinton added.
The U.S. secretary of state's sentiment on India was shared by her Australian counterparts too.
"I've been an advocate and an arguer of the point of view that India is on the rise, the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean is on the rise," Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said while addressing a University of Western Australia audience.
U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, meanwhile, met Australia's Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Foreign Minister Bob Carr as a part of the annual Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) consultations.