India needs to expand its influence in the East Asia-Pacific region and upgrade its engagement with Central Asia, said US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Wednesday as she outlined Washington's vision for India, dpa reported.
"We understand that much of the history of the 21st century will be written in Asia and that much of the future of Asia will be shaped by decisions not only by the Indian government, but by the 1.3 billion people who live in this country," Clinton said.
The backdrop of the comments, made in the southern city of Chennai, was China's increasing assertiveness on the continent and ways to counteract it.
Clinton, who concluded a strategic dialogue in New Delhi Tuesday, reiterated President Barack Obama's backing for India's inclusion in a reformed UN Security Council.
"India's leadership will help to positively shape the future of the Asia-Pacific, that's why the US encourages India not only to look east, but to engage and act east as well," she told students at the Anna Centenary Library.
Clinton said New Delhi and Washington were working closely on forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and that the US, India and Japan will soon launch a trilateral dialogue.
She prodded India to boost trade and economic links between violence-torn South Asia and Central Asia, which would help bring peace and prosperity in the region.
"This is not a time when any one of us can afford to look inward at the expense of looking outward. This is a time to seize the opportunities of the 21st century. This is a time to lead," Clinton said.
Her remarks carry significance since East Asia and Central Asia are considered as areas of Chinese influence.
Foreign policy analysts say Washington has been viewing India as a counterbalance to the growing economic and military might of Beijing.
Clinton said India and the US could still build a "strong, constructive" relationship with China.
"This will not always be easy. There are important matters on which we all disagree, one with the other. But we do have significant areas of common interest," she said.
Clinton also reminded India of its "duty" to speak against human rights violations in neighbouring military-run Myanmar, echoing Obama's remarks during his India visit last year.
Clinton met with regional leaders in Chennai, considered a hub for US investment, later Wednesday. She is scheduled to leave for Indonesia on Thursday to attend a regional security conference.