New Delhi: The US has exuded confidence that while there have been “gains over the years in the relationship” between India and the US over the past two decades, the trend will continue under the new dispensation headed by President-elect Donald Trump.
“As you look at the gains over the years in the relationship, particularly over the past 20 years, those have occurred in Republican and Democratic Administrations,” US Ambassador Richard R. Verma said on Friday while speaking at a Ficci function here.
“President Clinton’s visit was in many ways a landmark moment; Bush’s embrace of the civil nuclear cooperation and the defence framework deepened our strategic cooperation; and Obama over the past eight years has taken our ties to new heights… And, I’m confident this trendline will continue,” Verma said.
Speaking on the topic ‘Beyond the Election — The Future of India-US Relations’, he pointed out: “In a time of deep political polarization in our country, enhancing the US and India partnership is something that is refreshingly unifying, across the political divide.”
Verma said: “A strong bipartisan consensus (in the US) on the importance of the US-India relationship exists” and that consensus has only grown and strengthened over the years.
“Anyone who saw Prime Minister’s (Narendra Modi) speech before Congress this past summer realized that both Republicans and Democrats enthusiastically embraced our enhanced ties, rising to their feet in applause numerous times,” he said.
The US envoy said, moreover, there has been “greater convergence” on the big issues between the two countries.
“If we previously spent the bulk of our bilateral relations engaging in cordial but on separate political, economic and strategic tracks over the years well, those tracks are now converging. We’ve made it clear, perhaps in a way that it wasn’t before, that we support India’s rise as a global power…,” Verma said.
He said such spirit of convergence is also seen “in the counter-terror declarations and the unity of our condemnation of terrorism of all forms, including cross-border terror”.
In this context, the ambassador said: “We see our renewed convergence on issues related to Afghanistan, our trilateral cooperation with Japan, the increasing complexity, pace and character of our military exercises, and we see it in a recent and historic designation of India as a Major Defence Partner”.
Verma said in fact, none other than Prime Minister Modi has himself echoed the spirit of the new Indo-US era and pointed out how Modi in his address to the Congress had said, “a strong and prosperous India is in America’s strategic interests”.
“It’s that simple. It’s that important. And this philosophy has helped drive our cooperation upward, deeper and closer,” the ambassador said.
He further said the practical impact of this view is in the embrace of a Joint Strategic Vision for Cooperation across the Asia Pacific, a landmark agreement our two leaders entered into in January of 2015, and one that stands for the peaceful resolution of disputes, freedom of navigation, counter piracy, counter WMD, economic integration and so much more.
Referring to trade and commerce, he said in a world of declining exports the two-way trade is “actually up”.
“Now at nearly $110 billion, the US continues to be India’s largest trading market, and you continue to have a nearly $30 billion trade surplus in our bilateral trade. The character of our trade and investment relationships has changed. The vision of India as simply an outsourcing destination is outdated,” Verma said.
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