Ahead of the India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) next week in New Delhi, a senior American official said this would be an opportunity for the two countries to reflect upon the progress made under the outgoing Obama administration and chart the path forward.
“The S&CD presents an opportunity to really reflect upon where we have come and also chart a path forward on where we want to go and how we want to use this relationship,” a senior State Department official told a group of journalists.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will be in New Delhi for the dialogue.
Leading a team of top officials from 12 different government agencies, Kerry and Pritzker would co-chair the last Strategic and Commercial Dialogue under the Obama Administration along with their Indian counterparts the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Kerry would arrive in New Delhi on August 29 from Dhaka. The Strategic and Commercial Dialogue is scheduled to take place on August 30.
This would be the seventh India US Strategic Dialogue which was announced in 2009 by the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is now the Democratic presidential nominee.
In 2015, the US and India added the commercial track and as such this would be the second strategic and commercial dialogue.
On his fourth visit to India as Secretary of State, Kerry is also scheduled to have bilateral meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. He would meet the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 31, the official said.
The Secretary would also be addressing an audience of students, academics, business leaders and journalists at the Indian Institute of Technology where he will talk about “the broad arch and trajectory” of the US-India ties and the importance of that relationship in both addressing the challenges and opportunities of the not only bilaterally, but also regionally and globally.
“…A joint vision statement on the Asia Pacific that was launched during President Obama’s historic Republic Day visit that the S&CD presents an opportunity to really reflect upon where we have come and also chart a path forward on where we want to go and how we want to use this relationship to as Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has said to not only advance the interest of the American people and the Indian people but really to advance and benefit global issues,” the official said.
“That is how the Secretary is really looking at those opportunities to have those kind of conversations in his dialogues and bilateral meetings,”the senior State Department official said.
“As we look at the different challenges and opportunities that we are faced with across the world, increasingly we are looking to engage with and partner with India in addressing those challenges. And India will increasingly play a consequential role in advancing peace and security across the Indian Ocean and across the globe. So US India partnership is critically important for both countries,” said the State Department official.
“I think, you saw in Prime Minister Modi’s speech before the US Congress, one of the most compelling visions as he laid out of a growing convergence in how both our countries view both the challenges and the opportunities as imperative of cooperation to be able to address the challenges and maximise the opportunities,” the official added.
Noting that the two countries always had a very broad and very deep partnership to address the whole range of bilateral issues, the State Department official said what one now sees is a “very real time cooperation” on trying to address issues globally through regional, multilateral as well as bilateral efforts.
“And that’s why the President and the Prime Minister have met seven times in the span of three years. That’s why they also had multiple phone conversations, that’s why Secretary Kerry has met his counterpart here in Washington, in New Delhi, in New York and other places around the world.
“…that’s why the across the board if you look at the senior leadership of the United States, the level of engagement that they are having with their Indian counterparts is at unprecedented levels. And I only see that growing and not diminishing,” the official argued.
The official refused to entertain questions on the India US relationship in the next administration.
“I certainly do not opine on political campaigns. What I can say that Republican and Democratic Administrations and Republican and Democratic leadership on the Capitol Hill and the think-tank community, business community all essentially recognise the importance of this relationship and this partnership.
“…I solely expect that no matter who is in control of the Congress, who is in control of the executive branch that the arc and the trajectory of this relationship would continue on the path that has been on and that the partnership will only intensify as it moves forward,” the official said.