Brussels: US-led NATO has asked India to shed its non-aligned policy and called for a partnership with it to tackle common security challenges such as terror threats, cyber security and piracy.

"Even with regard to common missile threats, the ability to defend could be the same," a top NATO official said.

The 28-member NATO has already reached out to New Delhi asking it to co-opt as a "dialogue plus partner".

Stressing that India should shed its non-aligned policy and assume a bigger role as a leader, the NATO official said that even Australia which is far away has a relationship with NATO and is on Thursday the 10th largest participant with NATO in Afghanistan.

Making a strong pitch for joint efforts to combat cyber threats, the official said, "cyber world does not recognise alignments. It only understands switches."

Urging India to abandon Cold War mindset, the official pointed out that even Russia is in a special partnership with NATO.

"The NATO-Russia Council determines cooperation on such vital issues as theatre missile defence, military logistics with respect to the US-led campaign in Afghanistan, terrorism, narcotics and piracy."

He hinted at an understanding between India and US on the military intervention in Libya. Talking about the need for deeper relationship, NATO officials said their Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has spoken to Indian officials while the deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero visited India to start a dialogue.

"I think it is important to have a dialogue and deepen that dialogue at every level of society," said Ambassador Ivo H Daalder, US Permanent Representative to the NATO.

He said, "It is important for India to have a dialogue at every level - societal and official - to have a dailogue about India's concept of internal security and if its international security fits with NATO's concept of international security. On how we can promote security together."

Daalder, however, said, "ultimately the decision on India's role with respect to NATO is going to be India's decision. On where that relationship will go, it will also depend on where India will like it to go, he said.

He said, we do so already in places like Afghanistan, where NATO and India are present. "We can think of other places also - like the Indian Ocean to deal with piracy. NATO has an operation there and Indian ships are part of the effort to fight piracy. We can strengthen this relationship."

Assuming a different role in on Thursday's world order, NATO which was formed 62 years ago in the backdrop of the Cold War, is on Thursday on an overdrive to reach out beyond its traditional borders to secure its interests world-wide.

NATO officials said they considered NATO as a "Living House", which stood on two pillars - the pillar of collective defence and the pillar of cooperative security.

(Agencies)