`US working on ambitious roadmap for Narendra Modi-Barack Obama meeting`

The US is looking forward to a "very substantive and consequential" visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington later next month and is working on a "pretty ambitious roadmap" for his bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama, a top American official said.

New York: The US is looking forward to a "very substantive and consequential" visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington later next month and is working on a "pretty ambitious roadmap" for his bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama, a top American official said.

"We have a pretty ambitious roadmap and workload over the next six weeks and we look forward to a very substantive and consequential visit for Prime Minister (Modi) and look forward to being able to really put a great deal of meat on the bones in terms of this very important relationship that the President has characterised as a defining partnership for the US in the 21st century," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal told reporters here.

Speaking at the Foreign Press Centre on `US Foreign Policy Priorities in India`, Biswal said the India-US relationship is at a "pivotal moment of opportunity".

"This is a relationship that carries a great deal of importance and meaning to the US and is at a critical moment of opportunity and we want to make sure we work very closely with our counterparts in India in realising that opportunity," she said.

India and the US discussed a broad range of issues in the Strategic Dialogue that was chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on August 1.

The dialogue focussed on strengthening cooperation in economic opportunity, energy security, homeland security, education, space and?vocational training.

"These are all areas where we are looking to see some concrete announcements. I don`t have that to give to you right now but that is what the homework assignment has been for the two sides to be working on over the next six weeks," Biswal said.

She said that Kerry and Modi were "very focussed" on taking all of the "positive energy" of the Strategic Dialogue and their first meeting and "making it, translating it into concrete actions".
The two "essentially tasked both teams to work together over the next six weeks to see how we can create some specific initiatives, specific actions that can be launched during the visit of Modi in September.

"This is a very broad relationship between our two countries and societies. It is not about one or two things, it is about how we are partnering across this?large scope of our two democracies to advance shared goals and objectives," she said.

Biswal said there would be "very broad discussions" between the two leaders that will encompass a wide range of issues.

"We will be looking to see how we can strengthen and deepen the partnership and where we see great areas of convergence and what we can do where we see areas of divergence try to bring more convergence in those areas," she said adding that the US is looking at a very "robust agenda" and looking forward to Modi`s visit.

Biswal said that following his meetings with Modi and senior Indian government officials, Kerry came away "with a conviction that there is an enormous amount of energy, enormous amount of opportunity, possibility that we want to focus on."

The Strategic Dialogue was a forum where the US officials were able to sit down with their Indian government counterparts to "lay a bit of a path" for what kinds of actions and initiatives the two nations want to focus on.
Biswal said in the economic sphere, there is a great deal of desire to see what can be done to create an infrastructure platform that will allow American companies to be able to focus their tools, technologies and capabilities around the priorities identified by the Indian government.

"This would essentially allow a bit of information, analysis and match making to take place and this is something that both sides are working on," she said.

Biswal said the US is also very focussed on Modi`s desire to boost manufacturing adding that they are more possibilities ahead of investments by major US companies into creating manufacturing platforms in India.

"We think that fundamentally for these things to really launch in a big way, both countries need to work together to create the right enabling environment, so that the regulatory and policy environment is one that is conducive of attracting the maximum amount of investment and collaboration. That requires actions in both countries. So we are looking to see how we can work together to advance that," she said.

Another area identified by the Indian government as a key priority is energy security.

"This is one where the US has had a very strong partnership and collaboration but we know that there is much more we can do and we talked about how we can particularly make more robust the cooperation on clean energy," Biswal said.

She noted that the two sides want to see what additional measures can be taken, including launching an off-grid alliance that can help connect renewable technologies to the grid and help bring energy access for the 400 million Indians who currently are unserved or underserved by the grid.

Biswal said US` relationship with India has been on the basis of shared values of the two democracies, religious freedom and tolerance, opportunity for all including for equal opportunity and access for women and girls.

"These are issues which we will continue to collaborate on and discuss because we have lessons that we have learnt along the way of how we have addressed these issues and we continue to grapple with these issues in our own country," she said.

"This is really about a dialogue about how both countries can benefit each other, learn from each other across the wide spectrum of issues. There are many areas where India has some very important lessons to share. Some of the things that India has done on transparency, open government are things that we want to be able to share more broadly," she added.

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