Washington: The real story in the Indo-US relationship is the pace and nature of engagement between the two countries after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power last year, a well-known American expert has said.
"I think the real story is the fact that so much engagement with the Modi government has happened, rather than just the fact that our President has visited India twice in office," said Rick Rossow, Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
"That is certainly a great story, but it is, surprising to see how much India has been willing to engage with us, is probably the bigger story than the opposite," said Rossow.
Prime Minister Modi has surprised India watchers and US officials with his fast pace of relationship with America, Rossow said at a news conference ahead of President Barack Obama's India trip later this month.
"I'll tell you from my personal interactions with senior members of the BJP and other groups that are aligned with the BJP, they would say the same thing. They would say, look, Prime Minister Modi wants a strong economy and a strong defense. And these are things that we know the United States can be a good partner on," Rossow said.
"But he's going to want to walk that very slowly because of the visa withdrawal, because of the ban on high-level engagement. Well, he wins the election...And he immediately is prepared to engage the United States in a bigger way than I think most of us had envisioned just days prior to the election," he said.
Rossow said let "bygones be bygones" and called for moving forward on areas in which there is a shared interest and potential for cooperation.
"So some people point to the President's visit to India as exciting because it's the first time a President has visited India twice while in office. But actually, I think the bigger narrative is the fact that we're having this much engagement so soon in the Modi administration," Rossow said in response to a question.
As a result of Prime Minister Modi's policies, there is a renewed interest in India now ?- in both the strategic and business communities in the US, he said.
"Now I think that India has raised its hand and said we're ready to talk about strategic interests again and shared interests. It feels that India's back in line, I think, with the broader Asia pivot, and in fact may become one of the cornerstones now," he added.