Hours after the death of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said that the relationship between the two countries continues to benefit from the former leader's vision, which helped promote expanded cooperation.
In a statement provided by the US State Department, Pompeo elucidated, "He recognised early on that the United States and India, based on their shared democratic values, could develop a partnership that would contribute to the economic prosperity and security of the region and the world. Today, our two countries and our bilateral relationship continue to benefit from Prime Minister Vajpayee's vision, which helped promote expanded cooperation."
Pompeo said that Vajpayee advocated for India's development while also recalling a line that the former prime minister had said at the US Congress in 2000.
"We know that many Indians will reflect on Prime Minister Vajpayee's many contributions that led to India's rise as a global and economic power. He championed tirelessly for his country's development and demonstrated a devotion to improving the lives of every Indian. Standing before the United States Congress in 2000, he famously characterised US-India ties as a 'natural partnership of shared endeavours," Pompeo added.
Pompeo said, "The American people and I stand with the people of India as we mourn Prime Minister Vajpayee's passing. Today, we hold the people of India in our thoughts and prayers."
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran leader, aged 93, breathed his last at 5.05 pm on Thursday at All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi. Vajpayee, who was the country's 10th Prime Minister, will be laid to rest at the Smriti Sthal on Friday afternoon.
He led the National Democratic Alliance government from 1998 to 2004 and was the first-ever member of the BJP to become India's Prime Minister. The Central and all state governments have declared a seven-day holiday.