- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - India’s national security adviser made a low-key visit to Washington earlier this week to meet with a senior aide to President-elect Donald Trump, Indian diplomats said Friday, in a sign of New Delhi’s desire to forge close ties with the incoming U.S. administration.

India’s Ajit Doval met for more than one hour with Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, and they discussed their respective security priorities, including counterterrorism. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the unannounced meeting.

Doval then met Tuesday with current U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Secretary of State John Kerry.

New Delhi hopes a Trump administration will take a tougher line against Islamic militancy by India’s historical rival, Pakistan, but likely has concerns over a Nov. 30 phone call between Trump and Pakistan’s prime minister.

In its readout of that call, Pakistan said that Trump described the country as “amazing” and expressed a desire to visit - something that President Barack Obama has not done during his eight years in office, although his predecessor George W. Bush did.

Under Obama, there have been periodic strains between the U.S. and India, but relations have picked up since Modi was elected in 2014. When Modi addressed Congress this June, he described the U.S. as an “indispensable partner” and said together they could anchor stability and prosperity from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.

The world’s two largest democracies share strategic concerns about the rise of China. While India steers clear of a formal alliance with Washington, the two militaries conduct frequent joint drills and India has turned to U.S. suppliers to help modernize its armed forces.

During the election campaign, when Trump often used negative rhetoric against foreign nations, he was largely positive about India. He praised Indian nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi for championing bureaucratic reform and economic growth.

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