Thursday, June 14, 2012

Clinton, Indian Foreign Minister at U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

Office of the Spokesperson
June 13, 2012
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
And Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna
At the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue
June 13, 2012
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, and welcome to the Third Annual U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue. Minister Krishna, a warm welcome to you and your distinguished delegation. It is a pleasure to repay the hospitality you have shown me so often, most recently this past month in Delhi, and to have this opportunity to bring together so many experts and officials from our two countries.

The strategic fundamentals of our relationship - shared 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.

As a result, under President Obama's and Prime Minister Singh's leadership, we are forging a new and more mature phase in our critical bilateral relationship, one defined by near-constant consultation aimed at advancing the interests and values we share, and working through the inevitable differences. There is less need today for the dramatic breakthroughs that marked earlier phases, but more need for steady, focused cooperation. This kind of weekly, sometimes daily, collaboration is not always glamorous, but it is strategically significant. And it is exemplified by this dialogue.

Reflected around this table are a wide range of participants representing the many topics we are working on together. And we are committed to not only expanding our bilateral relationship, but to furthering the work we do regionally and globally. In fact, later this week we will co-host an important Global Health Conference on child mortality.

The quantity of meetings ultimately matters less than the quality of the results produced. And the effectiveness of our partnership hinges on our ability together to convert common interests into common actions. It's not enough just to talk about cooperation on issues ranging from civilian nuclear energy or attracting more U.S. investments to India or defending human rights or promoting women's empowerment; we have to follow through so that our people - citizens of two great pluralistic democracies - can see and feel the benefits.

I think we are making progress. Let me quickly highlight five areas.

First, trade and investment. We've come a long way together: Bilateral trade and investment may exceed $100 billion this year, up tenfold since 1995 and up more than 40 percent since 2009 when we launched the Strategic Dialogue. There's a lot of room, however, for further growth, and we need to keep up the momentum. We look forward to working to advance negotiations on the Bilateral Investment Treaty, to further reduce barriers to trade and investment in areas like multi-brand retail, and to create hospitable environments for each of our companies to do business in the other's country.

Second, on science and technology. We have significant accomplishments: a new Partnership to Advance Clean Energy; more than $1 billion mobilized for clean energy projects; progress on the Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center; and yesterday, Westinghouse and India's Nuclear Power Corporation signed an agreement committing both sides to work toward the preliminary licensing and site development work needed to begin construction of new reactors in Gujarat. There is still a lot of work to be done, including understanding the implications of nuclear liability legislation, but this is a significant step toward the fulfillment of our landmark civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

Third, on education and people-to-people ties. Yesterday in our Higher Education Dialogue, we discussed in depth how to increase educational exchanges and strengthen the ties between our universities. Indians and Americans are among the most innovative people on this planet, and we have so much to learn from each another. But making the most of this potential will require investments from both sides and a strong focus on areas such as job training and digital learning, where we can make a big impact.

Fourth, on security and defense cooperation. Over recent years we've expanded coordination and information sharing in the fight against violent extremism. Our militaries are participating in joint exercises and are increasingly cooperating to combat piracy, patrol vital sea lanes, and protect freedom of navigation. Bilateral defense trade has surpassed $8 billion over the last five years. We are convinced this partnership can grow in the future to include joint research, development, and co-production of defense systems. And in our discussions today, I hope we can focus in particular on the need to deepen cooperation on cyber security, which is a growing concern for both of us.

And let me add, on the critical security challenge of Iran's nuclear program, we can see habits of cooperation paying off. The United States appreciates that India has made it clear it understands the importance of denying Iran a nuclear weapon and supports the efforts to ensure Iran's compliance with international obligations. And India has taken steps to diversify its sources of imported crude by reducing purchases of Iranian oil - a fact that I officially reported to our Congress. The United States recognizes India's growing energy needs, and we're working together to ensure not only stable oil markets but additional areas of cooperation to help India attain greater energy security.

And finally, we are cooperating in South and East Asia. The United States welcomes India's contributions toward building a stable, secure, and prosperous Afghanistan, including its more than $2 billion in assistance. We hope the conference later this month in New Delhi will galvanize more international investment. And together we must continue laying the groundwork for the long-term vision of a New Silk Road that connects markets, businesses, and consumers from the Caspian to the Ganges and beyond. Both the United States and India have signed strategic partnership agreements with Afghanistan to demonstrate our enduring commitment, and I hope we can move toward a formal trilateral consultation among our three nations.

The United States continues to support India's Look East policy. Both our countries have significant stakes in the future of the dynamic Asia Pacific region, and we need to expand our work both bilaterally and through multilateral institutions such as the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum to work to build a regional architecture that will boost economic growth, settle disputes peacefully, and uphold universal rights and norms.

And I think that these are just five of the significant areas in which the strategic fundamentals of our relationship are progressing. I'm very excited and appreciative for all the work that has been done by members of both of our governments, only some of whom are represented here today, to move our Strategic Dialogue further and to broaden and deepen our cooperation.

Let me again thank Minister Krishna for his leadership, and let me now turn and invite him to speak.

FOREIGN MINISTER KRISHNA: Thank you, Madam Secretary Hillary Clinton, distinguished members of the United States delegation, it's a great pleasure for me to join you in chairing the Third India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue. I would like to thank you profusely for hosting the dialogue, and for the warmth and hospitality. And we also sincerely appreciate the efforts that your team and our embassy here have put in to making this literally an India-United States fortnight in Washington. With all the other bilateral meetings scheduled in the past two weeks, it speaks to the depth of our relationship and the diversity of our engagement.

Madam Secretary, I am particularly honored to be joined by my distinguished ministerial colleagues: Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister for Health and Family Welfare; Mr. Montek Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission; Mrs. Krishna Tirath, Minister of State for Women and Child Development; Mr. Ashwani Kumar, Minister of State for Planning, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences; and Mr. Sam Pitroda, Public Information, Infrastructure and Innovation Advisor to Prime Minister. I am also pleased to be joined by several of our most senior officials in the Government of India.

Even by the high standards of India-U.S. relationship, we have had an unprecedented intensity of engagement over the past years. Yet the Strategic Dialogue is a unique opportunity to bring together all the threads of our cooperation that constitute the extraordinarily rich tapestry of our relationship. Madam Secretary, our two sides have a shared vision that our global strategic partnership could be one of the most important defining relationships of the 21st Century.

In July 2009 in Delhi, we started a new chapter in an already exciting study of India-U.S. ties. Our bilateral engagement as well as global developments over the past three years has only strengthened our mutual commitment to this partnership. In every field - political, strategic, security, defense, intelligence, nuclear cooperation, space, trade and investment, energy, science and technology, higher education and empowerment - we are making tangible and continuous progress. What was once novel and unprecedented in our relationship is now almost routine and normal. In the process of our engagement, we have built something more precious: friendship, goodwill, trust, mutual confidence, candor, and belief in the importance of a successful partnership.

Sometimes there are questions and doubts about the relationship. They are inevitable in something so unique and new. But I believe that having settled the question of whether India and the U.S. can or should work towards a close relationship, the question we ask now are how to harness the full potential of that relationship. If we go by the investments that the two governments are making and the energy and enterprise of our people, we are, Madam Secretary, on the right track. But as I say, we have reasons to be satisfied but not complacent. So we hope, in the course of today, we will chart the course ahead both for the immediate future and the long term. (Inaudible) I think the dialogue process will start.

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

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