India-US partnership in a new ‘strategic plus’ phase: Richard Verma

India-US partnership in a new ‘strategic plus’ phase: Richard Verma

1-26-2015_35496_l_T download (3)Asserting that India-US strategic partnership has moved into a new “strategic plus” phase, US Ambassador to India, Richard Verma, says the two countries are focused on finding creative, realistic ways to move forward.

“I believe we are witnessing a transformative time in US-India relations,” he told a Washington think tank on Friday outlining how President Barack Obama’s recent visit to India had propelled US-India relations to a new level of strategic convergence.

Reciprocating Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s earlier visit to Washington, the two leaders inaugurated a deep agenda of bilateral cooperation resulting in no fewer than 30 dialogues, declarations, and agreements, he noted.

“As India’s strategic plus partner, we support India’s aspiration to become a leading power,” said Verma in a talk on “Strategic Plus: Taking US-Indian Relations to a New Level” at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“We also welcome India’s constructive leadership on global challenges,” said Verma, who is on his first visit to Washington since becoming US ambassador to India.

Discussing what must be done to sustain the momentum that is transforming and deepening the two countries’ ties, he said: “It is fair to say that we’ve got a big agenda and big goals for this partnership.”

“We’re focused on finding creative, realistic ways to move them all forward,” Verma said.

“Our leaders recognise that a robust US-India partnership can be a force for greater peace, prosperity, and security in the world,” he said.

“But we won’t always agree,” said Verma citing India’s support this week for the attempt to strip benefits from UN staff in same-sex relationships as an example.

In Delhi, “there is still a broader strategic and economic debate going on about whether India should focus globally or whether it should focus inward and limit its foreign policy to the region”, Verma said.

“So as we move forward, we will also need to manage our expectations. We have to be cognizant of the speed and scope of our initiatives; we have to prioritise.

“When we disagree, we will do so with respect and in a spirit of partnership and an appreciation for the immense value and promise for our relationship.

“If we continue to move forward on such terms, there will be few limits to how far we can advance, and how much we can achieve, in the years and decades to come,” Verma said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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