Thursday, June 14, 2012

Maturing India-U.S. Relationship Sees More Converging Interests

By Stephen Kaufman
Staff Writer
Washington - At the conclusion of the third U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said both countries are united in seeking "an open, free, fair and transparent economic system," and stability and security in South Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.
"India and the United States have a strong foundation of friendship and cooperation. But today we are seeing something new. The strategic fundamentals of our relationship are pushing our two countries' interests into closer convergence," Clinton said June 13 in Washington.
India and the United States share not only democratic values, but also diplomatic and security priorities, Clinton said. "We both see the importance of a coordinated international response to violent extremism and other shared global challenges," she said.
The U.S.-India relationship has matured beyond the need for "dramatic breakthroughs" but needs "steady, focused cooperation aimed at working though our differences and advancing the interests and values we share," Clinton said.
In a June 13 op-ed, Clinton wrote that the United States and India are both "big, diverse, noisy democracies, committed to pluralism, freedom, and opportunity," and since India's rapid economic development and growing regional leadership that began in the 1990s, the trajectory of their bilateral relationship has begun to change.
"India's expanding [gross domestic product], thriving private sector, emerging consumer class, and increasing diplomatic clout have all combined to make it a global power with a big stake in maintaining international security and prosperity. As a result, we find ourselves sharing more than just common values and political systems - we also increasingly share common interests in an open, free, fair, and transparent global economic system; peace and prosperity in South Asia and the Asia-Pacific; and a coordinated international response to violent extremism and other shared global challenges," she wrote.
Clinton said the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy "should have one of the world's most robust and consequential economic relationships," and that more and more "we find that India's interests and America's interests are lining up."
She emphasized the need to convert "common interests into common action," with results that citizens in both countries can see and appreciate.
"We recognize that some Indians still fear that working closely with the United States will undermine their 'strategic autonomy.' But at the end of the day, a strategic partnership isn't about one country supporting the policies or priorities of the other. It's about working together on shared goals and preventing short-term disagreements from derailing long-term cooperation," Clinton wrote.
In remarks June 13, Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said both countries have enjoyed "an unprecedented intensity of engagement over the past years," with the beginning of the Strategic Dialogue in 2009.
"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," Krishna said, adding, "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 her remarks June 13, Clinton cited a new agreement between U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric and India's Nuclear Power Corporation to work on preliminary licensing and site development that will be needed to begin construction of new nuclear reactors in the Indian state of Gujarat. Clinton hailed the agreement as "a significant step toward the fulfillment of our landmark civil nuclear cooperation agreement. "
In addition, the State Department announced June 12 the first round of awards under the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative to eight educational partnerships between the United States and India.
For the initiative, announced in November 2009 by President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, both governments pledged $5 million each, and the eight projects will all be receiving $250,000 over a three-year grant period to "encourage mutual understanding, educational reform, and economic growth, as well as the development of junior faculty."
The initiative aims to "further strengthen, through faculty exchanges, joint research, and other collaboration, partnerships between American and Indian institutions of higher education in priority fields, including food security, climate change, sustainable energy, and public health," according to the State Department.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.) 

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