Indian ambassador to the US Meera Shankar talked to Yashwant Raj as US secretary of state Hillary Clinton goes to India for the annual strategic dialogue on July 18.
On the current of state of bilateral relations:
We continue to deepen our relationship with the US across a very broad spectrum — political, strategic and economic. The visit of secretary Clinton to India for the strategic dialogue will be an opportunity to review the considerable progress that we have made since President Obama’s historic visit last November, explore new initiatives and chart out the course for the future and also exchange views on the situation in our neighbourhood and beyond.
On whether there are likely to be any fresh initiative:
We are working on several initiatives, including in the areas of civil aviation, energy and investment which will provide new avenues for cooperation.
On the role of defense purchases in the strategic relationship:
Our defence relationship is an important component of overall strategic relationship. We have purchased about US $8 billion worth defence equipment from US in recent years. As Indian modernises its armed forces, there will be more such opportunities.
On India’s apprehensions about the drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan:
We both want Afghanistan to develop as a secure, stable, independent, prosperous and democratic state. Even as the US proceeds with its drawdown, it would need to be ensured that this overall objective is achieved.
We hope to have a discussion on the situation in Afghanistan and also how we could work together for achieving a future of peace and stability.