"India and the United States do have a common commitment to a peaceful, pluralistic and progressive world. And no one should dispute that, as a liberal democratic society, India's rise poses no challenge to American values," India's new Ambassador to the US S Jaishankar told a Washington audience.
Seeking to put behind the recent tension in India-US ties following the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York, Jaishankar argued the case for a strong India-US relationship.
"You could reasonably ask what I would say about our ties to an Indian audience. To them, I would make two basic points," he said in his remarks before the Carnegie Endowment for International Relations, an eminent American think-tank.
"One, that to realise India's four key priorities - energizing the economy, raising our technology and management capabilities, securing the homeland, and ensuring a favorable balance of power - the US is the indispensable partner. Two, these big Indian goals are not at odds with the interests of the US. In fact, these could even be complementary," he said.
Noting that relationship building is never without challenges, he said some of it is structural; the rest emanates from different histories.
"The US has to overcome its inclination to view ties through the lens of alliance practices. Indians perhaps have to indulge themselves less in compulsive ambiguity," he said in his maiden public appearance before a US think-tank.
"Ironically, American complaints on that score usually come when it too is considering hedging. Building ties requires a degree of give and take that can test official doms. Appreciating each other's interests can be more difficult than we generally assume. And contrary to what many seem to believe here, domestic politics is not just the prerogative of the US," he said.
In an apparent reference to the diplomat row, Jaishankar said for those who have devoted time and energy to building Indo-US ties, the last few weeks have been truly distressing.
"What I have encountered since my arrival is the sense that this situation should never have happened. But since it did, we will now have to work through this problem. That is part of the conversations underway," he said.
"But what the issue does highlight is the need for greater sensitivity, for better understanding and for stronger oversight of our ties," Jaishankar said.
"It is important to understand that negotiations on some of the more difficult issues are independent of our bilateral ties. At the end of the day, our overall relationship is larger than the individual problems we examine and debate," he said.
"Having said that, it is also important that we resist calls to return to arguments of the past. The current phase of our ties came about precisely because there was a more acute understanding of the growing weight and potential of India by the United States. That must continue if we are to forge ahead," he added.