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Obama aide Rice says recent troubles shouldn't derail U.S.-India ties

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice looks up during a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shin
U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice looks up during a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top White House adviser attempted to smooth over troubled ties between the United States and India on Friday, saying the two countries should not allow the dispute over an Indian diplomat to "derail the future we are working diligently to build."

The diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, was arrested on December 12 on charges of visa fraud and lying to U.S. authorities about what she paid her housekeeper. She was stripped-searched while detained in a Manhattan federal courthouse, an incident that triggered a major rift between India and the United States.

The controversy interrupted what had been a warming in U.S.-Indian relations as part of a U.S. pivot toward Asia.

President Barack Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, addressing the Aspen Institute U.S.-India Dialogue, said recent events had drawn more attention to disagreements than cooperative efforts.

"But those difficulties should be minor compared to the breadth of our relationship and the magnitude of what we can accomplish together. We must also deal with our differences in a constructive manner, commensurate with a relationship of this importance," she said.

The two countries cooperate on a wide range of issues including counterterrorism, regional security and defense. India is also a major market for U.S. weapons.

"We cannot allow such challenges to derail the future we are working diligently to build — a future of greater prosperity, greater security, and consistent adherence to our shared values," Rice said.

Rice also said the United States is confident that, whatever the outcome of India's upcoming national elections, the cooperation and strategic partnership between the two nations will continue to grow.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Ken Wills)

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