Washington: The United States sees India, an emerging global and regional power, taking a larger role upon the world stage, a top Pentagon official said.

"In terms of the role of India in the world, we're very pleased. We really see India taking a larger role upon the world stage and understanding that they have a role as an emerging power and as a realised power and that they have a responsibility to be a part of the global community," the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia, Robert Scher, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference on Wednesday.

"I think you see it in the UN. You see it in the G-20. And this is a lot of the strategic partnership that (US) President (Barack) Obama and Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh have talked about is working together to address regional and global issues," Scher said in response to a question at the rare Pentagon news conference on India.

"Certainly out of the field of defence, but if you look at cooperation in Africa, where we are cooperating to deal with some development issues, if you look at peacekeeping operations and the tremendous commitment that India has made to international peacekeeping operations, you can't but be impressed and see that this is a constructive role that they're playing," he said.

"I think the potential for this is also quite great. And this is where we look forward to doing some of our best work together in solving problems that confront the region and the globe," Scher said.

Scher said US-India relationship is a priority for the Obama Administration and for Department of Defence, because they believe that a strong bilateral partnership is in the United States' interests and benefits both of the countries.

"In the past decade, there has been a rapid transformation in the US-India defence relationship. What was once a nascent relationship between unfamiliar nations has evolved into a real partnership between two of the pre-eminent powers in Asia," he said.

"Today, US-India defence ties are strong and growing. Our military-to-military engagement has increased steadily over the past 10 years, and now includes a robust slate of dialogues, military exercises, defence trade, personnel exchanges and armaments cooperation," he said.

The US believes that its engagement with India will help as India takes on a greater leadership role in South Asia, the Indian Ocean region and globally, on a range of issues.

"But I'll say that efforts to put this relationship within a specific category inevitably fall short. This is a unique relationship. We seek a partnership of equals, where India is enmeshed in the world as a key actor, and in regional security architectures, where we can and we do work together on shared interests," he said.

"We will continue to focus on relationship building and establishing the foundation for this long-term partnership. We view India and the development of our strategic and security relationship as instrumental to our long-term vision for the region," he said.

Pentagon held the news conference, a day after it submitted a report to the Congress on its relationship with India and the way forward for the next five years.

"This report gives us a chance to showcase a relationship that we believe is very important to US interests and a relationship that we're very proud of. We took this report as an opportunity to reflect on the positive trajectory of defence relations, which has led us to the strong state of US-India security cooperation on Thursday.”

“It is meant to be a straightforward, factual report about what we are currently doing and where we continue to cooperate together," he said.

"Over the past year, we've been working closely with our partners in the legislative branch to raise awareness about the importance of the US-India defence relations. The legislative branch has played an important role, and it continues to have an important role to play in advancing US -India relations," he said, adding that US-India relationship enjoys a bipartisan support.

He said the long-term partnership with India was an issue that clearly transcended party lines and administrations.

US holds Indian military prog in high regard

The offer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to India is an example that US holds India's military modernisation in high regard, a top Pentagon official said.

"What's clear is that the F-35 is something that we would be more than willing to talk to the government of India about should they request to find out more information about purchasing," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, Robert Scher said.

"We have made no assertions or promises, and we have not received any request for this," he said. "But certainly it's an example of the high regard that we hold India's military modernisation, what we think they can usefully potentially use and looking at technology exchange, that we could be able to proceed on," he said.

The Pentagon in a report on Tuesday had informed the US Congress that it was willing to offer the world's most advanced flying machine F-35 to India if it expressed interest in this regard.

Though it is for India to decide on its military modernisation program, but the US is ready to offer the best of its technology to it, Scher said.

"That's obviously for the government of India to decide and we look forward to be able to offer some of our best technology, some of our best equipment to fulfill their needs," he said.

"Certainly, we believe that the two entries for the MRCA competition were the best air planes available, the most proven technology to deal with India's express needs. We certainly would have liked for them to have continued to be in the competition. That was not the decision and we certainly respect that," Scher said.

In a nine-page report to the Congress on Tuesday, the Pentagon acknowledged that India’s recent decision not to opt for America’s F-16 and F-18 fighters while buying 126 war planes was a setback.

"Despite this setback, we believe US aircraft, such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), to be the best in the world. Should India indicate interest in the JSF, the US would be prepared to provide information on the JSF and its requirements (infrastructure, security etc) to support India’s future planning," the Pentagon informed the US Congress.

Continually looking for ways to expand defense cooperation with India, the Pentagon said it is seeking opportunities for increased science and technology cooperation that may lead to co-development opportunities with India as a partner.

JPN/Agencies