Houston: India`s new Ambassador to the US has said the "big issues" in bilateral ties do not exist any more after noting that there were desperate times when India and the US were "not on the same page".
In an apparent reference to the Khobragade episode that soured ties between India and the US, S Jaishankar said the two nations are now "broadly thinking alike".
59-year-old Jaishankar assumed office six weeks ago, during the peak of the diplomatic crisis following the arrest and strip-search of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade for alleged visa fraud.
Speaking at a reception organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Greater Houston (IACCGH) here recently, Jaishankar said there were desperate times "when we were not on the same page...Not even on the same book".
"The big issues are gone now and broadly we are thinking alike. And people want us to give suggestions, are looking up to us for solutions to the problems," he added. "After a month of going around in Washington, I`ve observed that there is today an appreciation where we have reached."
Jaishankar said his visit to Houston - his first tour outside Washington ever since he took charge - was productive as his focus was mainly on oil and gas.
"Let us test our imagination on how much more the two nations can cooperate in areas like business, defence, aviation, knowledge, education research.
"Indian government realises it is important to increase business confidence and has issued clarifications on tax rules and investments by foreign manufacturers like pharmaceuticals," Jaishankar said as he spoke candidly on the?India-US relations beyond trade.
He noted that though bilateral trade has expanded four-fold in the last eight years, but at USD 100 billion, it is still not enough.
Jaishankar also met with prominent industry leaders in the crucial oil and gas field, and businessmen from the IACCGH for discussions over investment opportunities in India.
Three reasons why India and US are close and think alike is because trade has quadrupled, bilateral investments are very strong, and the values and ideals are similar, he said.
"Houston has a special relationship as its trade with India is about USD 8 billion, more than some countries," he said, adding "Texas is an exceptional state of the US."
IACCGH executive director Jagdip Ahluwalia addressed the gathering that included Robert Beauchamp, CEO, BMC Software; David Leebron, president, Rice University; and Renu Khator, president and chancellor University of Houston as guests.
Jaishankar went on to recognise two individuals who have just been awarded the Padma Bhushan, India`s third highest civilian award Ashok K Mago of Dallas for his role in forging the civil nuclear deal between US and India, and Khator for her contribution to educational initiatives between the two countries.