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‘Obama’s trip a defining & exciting time in Indo-US relations’

December 03
04:01 2014

'Obama's trip a defining & exciting time in Indo-US relations'WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama’s visit to India will build on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s highly successful trip here, nominee for US Ambassador to India Richard Rahul Verma has said, describing it as a “defining and exciting” time in the re-energized Indo-US ties.

“There is no question that this is a defining and exciting time in the US-India relationship. President Obama will make a historic visit to India in January, becoming the first US head of state to attend India’s Republic Day and the only sitting US president to visit India twice,” Verma told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday during his confirmation hearing.

Obama’s trip will build on Prime Minister Modi’s highly successful visit to the United States in September, he said.

“There’s little doubt the relationship has been re-energized, with renewed enthusiasm to take our partnership to the next level,” said Verma.

Verma, 45, if confirmed, would be the first ever Indian- American to be the top US diplomat in New Delhi.

He would replace Nancy Powell, who resigned from her position early this year.

Verma said America’s strategic partnership with India is rooted in their shared democratic values and in the joint vision of a peaceful, just and prosperous world.

“From expanding trade and defense relationships, to ensuring maritime security and freedom of navigation, from countering terrorist networks to promoting clean energy and sustainable development the US and India share a wide-range of critical national interests. Our partnership is deep, it touches nearly every endeavor of human pursuit, and it has produced important gains for each of our countries,” he said.

Referring to the growing co-operation between India and the US in various field including trade and defense, Verma said the ripple effects of our partnership need not be limited to Asia.

“As Prime Minister Modi noted, the true power and potential in this relationship is that when the oldest and largest democracies come together, the world will benefit,” he said.
Verma said despite differences and some frustrating moments the trend line in the bilateral partnership is very strong.

“The relationship that we seek with India is really anchored in our values and our interests –largest democracy and oldest democracy,” he said.

“Our strategic impact can be felt not only in South Asia but also now in East Asia, as we do have a convergence of interests, and that is, we have to articulate a vision…I think we have to think much broader than a transactional relationship. Think about the strategic partnership that we both can have and can achieve,” he said.

“That’s the vision statement. We have to operationally that and we can operationally that through our defense relationship, through economics and trade, through energy and climate. There are a lot of different ways. And the richness of this partnership is really unlimited,” Verma said in response to a question from Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Verma acknowledged that the US also has challenges which come from India’s history, a very proud history of non-alignment.

“Sometimes we get frustrated when they don’t join us in international campaigns or on international efforts more publicly. But I would say that the trend line in our partnership is very strong and that we have to view it over a period of time and that we have to do the hard work that our bureaucracies are doing,” he said.

“The fact that the two leaders of both countries came together and articulated a very strong strategic vision statement for both countries I think really bodes well for the relationship. And I do think the time is now to build upon that,” he said.

Responding to questions, Verma said the recent India-US agreement on trade facilitation agreement of the WTO is good news.

“I think in recent weeks there’s a good-news story on the trade side,” he said.

“I think certainly health access and delivery of pharmaceuticals has been a contentious issue over the past few years. If we can talk about those issues in a way where we can bring our best practices together with some of the needs of India in delivering pharmaceuticals and delivering health and medicine, those are the kinds of discussions that can get us past some of the thorny issues,” he said.

“Trade with India has increased five times in the last 10 years. We can do much more if we can work together on some of these market access issues and on some of the trade issues, which are vitally important,” the Ambassadorial nominee said.–PTI

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