The US today said India does not need to choose between its ties with Washington and China and should avoid seeing Beijing as a rival.
Addressing a gathering here, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested that India and America should expand their defence ties and include Japan in their security cooperation partnership.
"Just like the US need not choose between its Asian alliances and its constructive relationship with China, similarly India need not choose between its closer relationship with America and improved ties with China.
"In our relations with Beijing, both Delhi and Washington, should see a healthy competition and we should avoid the traps of rivalry," he said at an Observer Research Foundation function here.
Hagel said the US wants to work for a peaceful global order in which "China was also a trustee" and both India and America should continue to work with it in the future.
Referring to the disputed South China Sea, he said both India and the US favour a peaceful resolution of disputes and are for the freedom of navigation in the seas.
The US Defence Secretary said Indian and American security interests converge as "India continues to look east and the US pursues strategic re-balance. These things headline the convergence of interests of our two nations."
He said as the security considerations of India and the US converge, "the two countries should also converge their partnerships. India and the US should consider expanding their trilateral security cooperation with Japan. We should have trilateral defence cooperation at the ministerial level."
Hagel said the three countries recently participated in the trilateral Malabar series exercise off the coast of Japan in the Pacific.
He said the US would also help to facilitate India's rise as a global power.
"We are working to expand the role of G20 and call for India to be a permanent member of the reformed UN Security Council," Hagel said.
Hagel said "America's future is tied to its sustained global engagement, and a stronger strategic partnership with India is an integral part of that future".
Stating that the fundamentals of the US-India partnership are strong, he said: "The question is whether India and the US can achieve the enormous potential of our partnership ... whether we can transform our potential into results."
The American Defence Secretary said the US is committed to exercising its leadership to support India's rise as a global power.
"The US strongly supports India's growing global influence and military capability, including its potential as a security provider from the Indian Ocean to the greater Pacific," he said.
"Helping fulfil that potential is a deepening US-India defence partnership – a partnership that must be cooperative, cutting edge, consequential, and based on common interests, strengthening our military-to-military relations, re-energising our defence industrial cooperation and expanding our regional cooperation," Hagel said.