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US seeks strong partnership with Modi government

Washington, July 17 Highlighting the critical role that a strong India will play in shaping the Asian landscape, the US hopes to have a “strong and collaborative partnership” with the new Modi government.

“Successive administrations have made the strategic bet that a rising India is in the US interest,” US point person for South Asia  told a Senate panel Wednesday in a hearing on “Indispensable Partners: Reenergizing US-India Ties.”

The “unprecedented mandate” received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party in India’s “historic election”, had “also created a historic opportunity to re-energise our relationship,” she said.

Noting that Asia’s “success will depend on choices Asian nations and their partners make,” Biswal said: “A strong India will play a critical role in the coming decades in shaping this Asian landscape, and our partnership with India will play an increasingly important role in that context.”

Biswal noted that the Modi government has identified infrastructure, manufacturing, modernizing the military, energy security, attracting greater foreign investment, and expanding access to skills training and education as its key priorities.

In all these areas that “We think the United States, including our businesses and universities, can play an important role in helping address the challenges India faces and creating opportunities that benefit both countries,” she said.

Biswal said the US was “confident we can work in a strong and collaborative partnership with the Modi government to grow our economic and strategic relations with India in a way that benefits both countries and both economies.”

This year’s US-India Strategic Dialogue co-chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi later this month will highlight how US-India ties promote shared prosperity in both countries, she said.

“We expect that the Strategic Dialogue will kick off a series of cabinet- and sub-cabinet-level visits throughout the late summer and fall, culminating in the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Washington at the invitation of the President,” Biswal said.

Amy Searight, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence highlighting the significant role played by defence relations in advancing India-US strategic partnership told the panel that “we want India to have all of the capabilities it needs to meet its security demands, and we want to be a strong partner in that effort.”

Under the US-India Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), “we are ready to move forward on a number of efforts, from co-production/co-development proposals to procurement and sales,” she said.

Frank G. Wisner, former US ambassador to New Delhi told a second panel that India can emerge as one of America’s “major strategic and economic partners and in turn, we can help India strengthen India’s security and promote the welfare of its people.”

Richard M. Rossow, Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said “the reasons for strategic partnership with India are stronger now than they were a decade ago.”

“America needs to approach these next two months without putting a ceiling on how big we are thinking, and without the baggage of the last five years,” he said.

Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Centre at the Heritage Foundation said “If the US demonstrates its willingness to establish close ties with the new government, it is likely that the BJP will reciprocate and the two sides can refocus on achieving the vision of a durable and strategic partnership.”

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