The United States and India Wednesday agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation on global issues and said that their ties had entered a new and more mature phase defined by constant consultations of strategic importance.
Addressing the third India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue at the State Department, Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked that strategic fundamentals of mutual relations between both the countries, based on democratic values, economic imperatives and diplomatic priorities, are moving us closer to an understanding and a trust that reflects the convergence of values and interests.
To grow and prosper, we both need open, free, fair, and transparent global economic systems. We both seek security and stability in South Asia and the Asia Pacific. And we understand the critical importance of a coordinated international response to violent extremism and other shared global challenges, said Clinton, who co-chaired the meeting with Indian external affairs minister S M Krishna.
Stressing the need for closer convergence of the friendship and cooperation, Clinton identified five key areas -- trade and investment, science and technology, education and people-to-people ties, security and defense cooperation and cooperation in South and East Asia -- where both the countries have made substantial progress.
On the question of the strength of bilateral relations and its future, Clinton pointed out that strategic talks between both countries have progressed beyond diplomatic dialogues. It's not only government to government; we're bringing in civil society, we're bringing in academia, we're bringing in the private sector. So I, for one, believe that we may be surpassing 3.0. We may be onto something that is quite unique and very important, Clinton said.
Speaking on the occasion, Krishna said that strategic dialogue that has taken place with the United States in the last three years has been extremely beneficial to India.
Stronger and more effective cooperation in counter terrorism, homeland security, cyber security, and intelligence in recent years is an important aspect of our strategic partnership, he added.
Reacting to a question on the differences that both the countries had on various issues, Clinton said that I always look at the totality of the relationship. I would be never in a position to say we don't have differences. How could two great nations with our histories and our political systems, these raucous, you know, incredibly pluralistic democracies, not have differences? That would be quite odd if that were the case.
But there's no doubt that our values and our interests are converging, that we have a view of this relationship that is in keeping with the perspectives and histories that bring us together in the 21st century, where we are finding so much more common ground that we are working on together. So I'm very positive about our relationship, and we will continue to work through the differences as they arise, Clinton added.
The agreements arrived on by both the sides
Both sides discussed several issues of bilateral interests in vast fields and expressed their satisfaction over the progress made on different fronts. Though the leaders discussed several aspects on increasing bilateral trade and resource and technology transfers, burning issues such as work visa for Indians moving to the U.S. remained untouched.
- Both sides intend to continue to support efforts that promote regional trade, transit, and energy linkages. Secretary Clinton welcomed India's growing engagement in the Asia Pacific.
- Both agreed to continue to consult closely on key global issues, including bilateral exchanges and information sharing in areas such as counternarcotics, countering piracy, maritime safety, and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief.
- Both sides reaffirmed their desire to strengthen defense cooperation through increased technology transfer, collaborative joint research and development and co-production of defense items.
- Both sides agreed to build Afghan capacity for governance, development and security, and to unlock its economic potential through regional integration. The importance of eliminations of safe havens in Pakistan for Afghanistan's security and the region's stability was stressed upon.
- Agreed to continue the dialogue on West Asia and Central Asia.
- The United States and India committed to implementation of a detailed action plan intended to share best practices, facilitate the exchange of operational approaches, and promote the development of concrete capacity building programs to secure our respective countries.
- Both leaders reiterated their commitment to further strengthening bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism cooperation, including intelligence sharing, information exchange, operational cooperation, and access to advanced counterterrorism technology and equipment.
- Welcomed the progress in India-U.S. cooperation in the energy sector, including in the areas of clean and renewable energy and energy conservation and efficiency and confirmed that both countries would continue to exchange best practices on low-carbon growth strategies to support a greener and more prosperous future.
- The United States reiterated its support as India seeks to secure stable supplies of natural gas. Minister Krishna stressed India's interest in the import of LNG from the U.S. and requested the U.S. government to permit such exports to India.
- Clinton and Krishna noted that bilateral trade in goods and services continue to grow and will likely reach $100 billion by the end of 2012 and called for an expeditious conclusion to negotiations toward a high standard Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) as a key part of the effort to deepen the economic relationship, improve investor confidence, and support economic growth in both countries.
- Secretary Clinton and Minister Krishna applauded the expansion of the U.S.-India Higher Education Dialogue, which made significant strides in fostering cooperation between the two countries in higher education, research and innovation, and community colleges. The United States and India plan to hold the next annual Higher Education Dialogue in 2013 in India.
- The U.S. welcomed India's proposal to organize a regional South Asia Women's Entrepreneurship Conference that will bring key policy makers, women entrepreneurs, civil society organizations, private sector institutions, and corporations together to work on concrete actions to expand women's economic participation in the region and beyond.
- The two leaders reiterated their governments' efforts to foster cooperation in research, development and innovation in agriculture, especially on agricultural productivity, envisaged in the Agricultural Dialogue.
- Secretary Clinton and Minister Krishna reviewed the outcomes of the second Science and Technology Joint Commission Meeting, held on June 11, which covered bilateral research cooperation on basic and applied sciences, atmospheric, environment and earth sciences, health and medical services, STEM education, facilitating technology commercialization for societal impact and retention and advancement of women in science and engineering.
- They welcomed the progress in their collaborative efforts to support agricultural development in Africa through initially offering training at Indian agricultural institutions through USAID support to Kenya, Liberia and Malawi.
- They also welcomed progress in the initiative for capacity building and training for election management in interested countries.
- The United States announced the launch of a new online philanthropy platform, a natural extension of the deep and vibrant people-to-people ties between the United States and India, providing private donors in the United States with information to help make decisions about contributing to NGOs in India more effectively (ProjectIndiaGiving.org).