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US secretary of state John Kerry said on Monday that it was a “potentially transformative moment” for relations between India and the United States, as the two countries were determined to deliver on the “strategic and historic opportunities” they can create together.
There is a “new government in India, with a new set of priorities, and new possibilities", Kerry said in a speech, setting up the tone for his upcoming visit to India for strategic dialogues.
Kerry also came out strongly in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision and plans for India. “Sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas (Together we all, development for all),” he said, adding the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) election campaign slogan was a great vision and a “concept we want to support”.
"The US and India can and should be indispensable partners for the 21st century. The dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit of our relationship is needed to solve some of world's greatest challenges." He added the two countries can work together to tackle global challenges from climate change to clean energy and others.
But Kerry, who leaves for India Tuesday night for the next round of the annual strategic dialogue in New Delhi, also firmly, but gently, trotted out all of US’s ongoing concerns.
“If India’s government delivers on its plans to support greater space for private initiative, if it creates greater openness to capital flows, it if limits subsidies and strive for competition, and provides strong intellectual property rights, believe me even more American companies will come to India,” he said in a speech in which he was widely expected to address the criticism that the present administration had not paid the relationship enough attention, not after President Barack Obama’s visit in 2010.
Watch video: Modi has proven increased transparency will lead to economic growth, says Kerry
Milan Vaishnav, an India expert at Carnegie, said, “Both sides have, in the last few years, often lost the plot, focusing instead on irritants which could derail the relationship."
Kerry’s speech may plug that hole, but will it be enough?
“One speech alone is insufficient,” said Vaishnav. “The administration will have to dedicate senior-level firepower on a sustained basis to keep the pressure on the bureaucracy.”
While in India, Kerry is scheduled to call on the Prime Minister, the chief reason for the dialogue to take place in New Delhi. It was Washington DC’s turn to host it this time. The US was keen for Kerry to meet the new Indian leadership at the earliest.
Prime Minister Modi will travel to the United States in September for the US general assembly in New York, and on President Barack Obama’s invitation, to Washington DC.
What about expectations from the summit? Anish Goel, a former White House official dealing with India, said, “I am optimistic about the coming summit, but don’t expect a major breakthrough.”
Full video of John Kerry's address: