Washington: The US can play an important role in helping India in addressing the challenges faced by it and creating opportunities that would benefit both countries, a top Obama administration official said today.
"In all the areas that the Modi government has identified as priorities, we think the United States, including our businesses and universities, can play an important role in helping address the challenges India faces and creating opportunities that benefit both countries," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Biswal said during a Congressional hearing.
Her comments came as Secretary of State John Kerry is all set to visit New Delhi for the next round of annual India-US Strategic Dialogue.
A week after the Deputy Secretary of State, William Burns, held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, Biswal, who was present at the meeting, exuded confidence that the US can work in a strong and collaborative partnership with the new government.
"The Modi government has identified infrastructure, manufacturing, modernising the military, energy security, attracting greater foreign investment, and expanding access to skills training and education as its key priorities," Biswal said.
"The Prime Minister, in inviting regional leaders to his inauguration, also signalled that India will play a greater strategic role in its immediate neighbourhood and across the Indo-Pacific region," she added, referring to the swearing-in ceremony of Modi attended by all the heads of the SAARC nations.
The Assistant Secretary said that a strong India will play a critical role in the coming decades in shaping the Asian landscape, and the US partnership with India will play an increasingly important role in that context.
"If India is to achieve its economic and strategic potential, it must overcome the myriad economic and governance challenges it is facing including slow growth, energy shortages and flagging foreign investment," she said.
"With a solid foundation to work from, our bilateral engagements over the course of the next several months will reinforce India-US strategic, economic and people-to-people ties," Biswal added.
Biswal informed the lawmakers that Kerry will be visiting New Delhi later this month to co-chair the US-India Strategic Dialogue with his counterpart Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj.
"We expect that the strategic dialogue will kick off a series of cabinet and sub-cabinet-level visits throughout the late summer and fall, culminating in the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Washington at the invitation of the President," Biswal said.
Biswal also underlined the potential of India in enhancing economic ties and peace in the neighbourhood.
"In South Asia, where intra-regional commerce comprises only five per cent of total trade, and intra-regional investment a paltry one per cent of investment flows, India has a chance to bring its entire neighborhood along with it, enhancing prosperity and peace by boosting trade and building connectivity throughout South Asia and the Bay of Bengal region," Biswal said.