New Delhi: US ambassador to India Richard Verma said further strengthening of India-US relations will be among the key priorities of the Donald Trump administration, given the deep existing bonds, the bipartisan political support for stronger ties with India and the role played by the Indian American community in the US.
Verma said he was “bullish" about future ties between the two countries and “confident our strong relations will continue into the next administration." He was speaking at an event organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry lobby group in New Delhi on Friday.
Verma’s comments come in the backdrop of billionaire businessman and Republican candidate Donald Trump’s stunning victory over Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton in the 8 November US presidential polls.
The fact that Trump has been both critical and complimentary about India during his presidential campaign has raised doubts in India about the future of its relations with the US.
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“There is no question in my mind that further building and strengthening the US-India relationship will be one of the top priorities" of the incoming Trump administration, Verma said.
He said this was due to several reasons—the first being the strong bipartisan consensus on the importance of US-India relations. Stressing that US lawmakers from both Republican and Democratic parties are in favour of closer ties with India, Verma said, “This consensus has only grown and strengthened over the years."
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US in June, when he addressed the US Congress, Verma said lawmakers across party lines had applauded Modi’s speech.
“At a time of deep political polarisation in our country, enhancing the US-India partnership is something that is refreshingly unifying across the political divide," Verma said.
The US ambassador recalled that the turnaround in India-US relations—from acrimony to cooperation and then convergence of views—took place under successive Democratic, Republican and then again Democratic administrations, under President Bill Clinton, then President George W Bush and most recently President Barrack Obama.
Relations between India and the US have warmed considerably in the past decade-and-a-half, after the two countries were seen on opposite sides during the Cold War decades. The high water mark in ties was the signing in 2008 of the India-US civilian nuclear cooperation pact that marked the end of 34 years of embargos against India sourcing nuclear technology and equipment for atomic power plants from the international markets.
The second reason in favour of the Trump administration staying the course on building stronger ties with India is the deeper strategic and economic convergence between the two countries, Verma said. The US has made it clear that it is in favour of India’s emergence as a power “with a key role in international relations." The US and India share the same view on a number of issues including cross-border terrorism and freedom of navigation, Verma said
“This is the new normal—strategic, economic and political convergence," Verma said.