'Strategic Dialogue a milestone in Indo-US relationship'



Washington: The Indo-US Strategic Dialogue being held in Washington this week is a milestone in the relationship of the two largest democracies of the world, the US Ambassador to India Tim Roemer has said.

"This week is another milestone in the US-India strategic relationship that has grown in leaps and bounds in the past 10 years," Roemer said in his address to the US India Business Council (USIBC).

India's External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are co-chairing the first Cabinet-level Indo-US Strategic Dialogue; which according to top US officials would set the pace for the long-term strategic relationship between the two countries.

"The US-India Strategic Dialogue is a series of high level meetings and events culminating in the June 3 Plenary Session between Secretary Clinton and External Affairs Minister Krishna.

It will highlight the progress in our partnership and identify new areas for collaboration," Roemer said.

"The future is bright and the sky is the limit for the US-India strategic relationship.

The US Mission in India is ready to work closely with all of you to take advantage of the limitless opportunities that arise everyday in India," the Ambassador said.

Roemer strongly refuted reports that India has not been a priority for Obama Administration.

In fact, he argued that there have been an incredible amount of positive stories this past year as the US-India bilateral relationship is now one of the good news stories of the day.

"Actually, it is the good news story of the decade. Perhaps that was on President Obama's mind when he referred to it as the "indispensable partnership of the 21st century," he noted.

In the past 12 months, he said the two countries have announced nuclear energy generation parks for American companies to build nuclear reactors in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh and they have agreed on end-use monitoring language, paving the way for increased defense sales such as the ones made for maritime patrol and transport aircraft.

"We've hosted several trade missions resulting in potential deals worth millions of dollars including a possible deal by a small Maryland based company to sell its automatic weather observing system to small airports and airstrips in India.

“We've seen a reduction in duty rates on medical equipment, on machinery and instruments used for solar energy, and on earthmoving equipment used for infrastructure projects," he said.

"I was able to hear the unmistakable roar of a Harley Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle, wearing a black leather jacket, as Harley opened its headquarters in Gurgaon," Roemer said.

"We also have high expectations for the future. For the first time, an Indian government is considering opening the door to foreign direct investment in the multi-brand retail sector," he said.

"With the help of USIBC, we hope to see American companies walking through that door, opening opportunities to Walmart and many others.

We are negotiating the sale of 10 C-17 aircraft to India with the potential package in excess of five billion dollars.

Expected changes in the export controls regime will increase sales in high technology," Roemer said.

"Our Partnership to Advance Clean Energy will accelerate the large scale deployment of clean energy in India, stimulating low-carbon economic growth in India and green job creation in the US.

We have high expectations not only for trade and investment but also for education, security, agriculture, health, science, and technology, to name a few," said the US Ambassador.

PTI