US for strategic ties with India: India Today - Latest Breaking News from India, World, Business, Cricket, Sports, Bollywood. US to seek 'expanded strategic partnership' with India IANS Washington, May 15, 2009 With a growing convergence of interests ranging from combating terrorism to getting the global economy back on track, President Barack Obama's administration will seek an expanded strategic partnership with India, a top US diplomat says. "With India we will seek an expanded strategic partnership, building on the growing convergence of our interests and values," Robert O. Blake told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday at his confirmation hearing as Obama's new point man for South and Central Asia. "In addition to our shared democratic values, we have common interests in combating terrorism, stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, getting the global economy back on track, addressing global climate change, and reinvigorating global trade talks," he said. "India, with its vibrant democracy and rapidly expanding economy, can be an anchor of stability and opportunity for South and Central Asia," said Blake, a former deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in New Delhi. Blake was most recently ambassador to Sri Lanka. If confirmed he would replace Richard Boucher as assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs. "As the world's largest democracy, India combats the dangerous misconception of some leaders in the region that democracy impedes economic development," Blake said noting that as the US seeks to revive its economic growth, "India provides vital export opportunities." Noting that US exports to India have increased from $5 billion in 2003 to almost $19 billion in 2008, he said India also offered "several opportunities where we can enhance regional integration." "With a massive and expanding middle class and an economy projected to grow at five per cent this year, India can be a hub for regional prosperity." Noting "India alone has a middle class the size of the total US population; it is projected to swell to 580 million people in the next 20 years," Blake described South and Central Asia region as "a region of extraordinary opportunity for the United States." Unlike many other regions, it will be a growing market for the US well into the 21st century," he said.