India, US will continue to push ties to new heights: Verma

HOUSTON: US and India have strengthened their ties in defence and counter-terrorism, global health, cyber security and deep space exploration, and will continue to push the bilateral cooperation to “new heights” in the months ahead, a top American diplomat has said.
“In our strategic cooperation, we’ve deepened our military-to-military relationships. We now train for joint operations, we’ve moved to joint production of defence items, and have developed a close and consequential counter-terrorism partnership to help keep both our populations safe”, US Ambassador to India, Richard Verma, said.
He was speaking here at the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) 16th Annual Gala.
Both as “natural allies” and “best partners”, we continue to push our cooperation to “new heights” –- from global health security, to agriculture, deep sea and deep space exploration, cyber security and law enforcement –- we are expanding our work together, and we will continue to do so in the months ahead.
We have aligned our vision for cooperation in the Asia-Pacific ocean region, standing up for the post-World War II rules-based order that both our countries hold so dear, he said.
Addressing a packed gathering of over 600 prominent businessmen, community leaders, Verma also said, “We support India’s move to become a rising power, with global political, strategic and economic influence. That’s why President Obama has explicitly called for India’s permanent seat on a reformed UN Security Council,” he said.
“During past nine months, I’ve witnessed first-hand the excitement of the US-India relationship; I’ve seen the impact that our people and our programmes can make; and I’ve seen the great promise of our strategic partnership – what clearly has become the critical strategic alliance for the 21st Century”.
Since the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington last September, we launched or re-energised some 30 different working groups, from trade to the environment. And, following the President’s January visit, we are working on some 80 different lines of work, Verma said.
But perhaps most significantly, we are becoming increasingly aligned on the key strategic questions of our time.
“In last one decade we’ve achieved a strong, solid record of performance. In 2005, our two-way trade numbers were around USD 30 billion, now it is USD 105 billion.
“10 years ago, we had around 30,000 Indian students studying in the US, but last year, it rose to highest number ever of was 1,05,000 students.
“Indian visitor visiting the US in 2005 were 400,000, past year number soared to over 1.2 million. And in defence, we went from USD zero in defence sales to well over USD 10 billion, in just a few short years,” Verma said.
“The real promise of our relationship, as Prime Minister Modi has said, is in what we can do for global peace and prosperity.
“That’s why our doctors are working together on maternal and child health in Africa; our militaries are helping to train peacekeepers and working together on humanitarian and disaster response in Asia; our scientists cooperate on deep space exploration and low-earth orbit weather and monsoon monitoring; and that’s why we are working together collectively to unleash the potential of our youth to help tackle the challenges of tomorrow”, Verma said.
We are making some good progress, as reflected in the fact that our first-ever Strategic and Commercial Dialogue will be held in Washington DC on Monday and Tuesday, he said.
Secretaries John Kerry and Penny Pritzker will lead this joint dialogue with their Indian counterparts, with the aim of continuing to break down trading barriers and laying the foundation for reaching that USD 500 billion target in a two-way trade.
Before concluding his keynote address at the event, Verma said, “Despite focusing on various spheres in strategic ties between the two countries, there are still obstacles, such as climate change, income inequality, and a range of transnational threats.” (PTI)

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