Washington: President Barack Obama will make a "historic visit" to India on the occasion of Republic day, nominee for US Ambassador to India, Richard Rahul Verma has told Senators saying this is a "defining and exciting" time in the Indo-US relationship.
"There is no question that this is a defining and exciting time in the US-India relationship. President Obama will make a historic visit to India in January, becoming the first US head of state to attend India's Republic Day and the only sitting US president to visit India twice," Verma told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday during his confirmation hearing.
Obama's trip will build on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's highly successful visit to the United States this past September, he said.
"There's little doubt the relationship has been reenergized, with renewed enthusiasm to take our partnership to the next level," said Verma.
Verma, 45, if confirmed, would be the first ever Indian- American to be the top US diplomat in New Delhi.
He would replace Nancy Powell, who resigned from her position early this year.
Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Verma said America's strategic partnership with India is rooted in their shared democratic values and in the joint vision of a peaceful, just and prosperous world.
"From expanding trade and defense relationships, to ensuring maritime security and freedom of navigation, from countering terrorist networks to promoting clean energy and sustainable development the US and India share a wide-range of critical national interests. Our partnership is deep, it touches nearly every endeavour of human pursuit, and it has produced important gains for each of our countries," Verma said.
Referring to the growing co-operation between India and the US in various field including trade and defence, Verma said the ripple effects of our partnership need not be limited to Asia.
"As Prime Minister Modi noted, the true power and potential in this relationship is that when the oldest and largest democracies come together, the world will benefit," he said.
"We will have our differences from time to time, close friends often do, but when we do have differences, it is imperative that we maintain a healthy dialogue", Verma said.
"The successful Trade policy forum held just last week in New Delhi, the first since 2010, and the recently established Civil-nuclear contact group are examples of our collaborative, dialogue-driven approach when pursuing consensus in key areas," he added.
"We can stand up for our interests, while not losing sight of the larger strategic interests that India and the US share together," Verma said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, introducing Verma before the senate committee said that he is the best choice for this key diplomatic post in New Delhi.
Verma said the two-way trade between the two countries have increased five-fold since 2001 to nearly USD 100 billion.
"In their recent meetings, Obama and Modi committed to increasing trade another fivefold, which would create tens of thousands of new jobs in both the United States and India," he added.
"On the defence front, the US has become one of India's largest suppliers of defence items over the last three years and active discussions continue on identifying projects for co-production and development as well as renewing our 10-year Defence Framework Agreement," he said.
"Our people-to-people exchanges are flourishing. There are over 100,000 Indian students currently studying in the US And the Indian diaspora in the United States, now estimated to number over 3 million, continues to make deep and lasting contributions to US society," he added.
"On climate, energy, health, infrastructure, human rights, and development and so much more, the US and Indian potential for collaboration and joint problem-solving is limited only by our imagination," Verma said.
The two countries, he said, are working hard at increasing regional connectivity. "India shares our belief that peace and stability are much more likely to be sustained when the countries of the region are tied together in trade, economic agreements, and through physical infrastructure.
"Across Asia, US and Indian interests are converging. India has been called the lynchpin of our Asia re balance. With India's Look East, and now Act East policies, our two countries can play a critically important role together in bolstering peace and security and promoting a rules-based, liberal, democratic order in the Indo-Pacific region," Verma said.