The relationship between the world's two largest democracies, India and the United States, is steadily growing. But, as evidenced by renewed calls for concrete action leading to deliverables, it is becoming clear that America wants more from the South Asia giant, and faster.
"It's not enough to talk about cooperating on civilian nuclear energy or attracting more US investment in India or defending human rights, we have to follow through so that our people can see the result,s" U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in an India Abroad op-ed Wednesday.
"The quantity of meetings ultimately matters less than the quality of the results produced...we have to follow through so that our people - citizens of two great pluralistic democracies - can see and feel the benefits," she added during remarks at the third U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue's opening session at the State Department.
While the leaders discussed a range of issued pertinent to furthering bilateral relations at the dialogue's kick-off Wednesday, it was clear a few key issues would take center stage - trade and investment, defense and the changing dynamic in Asia.
On trade, Clinton highlighted the need to further discussion on a Bilateral Investment Treaty, stating even though trade between the two countries has skyrocketed, increasing 40 percent since 2009, "there's a lot of room, however, for further growth, and we need to keep up the momentum."
Increasing India's roles in East and South Asia is also a topic looming at the dialogue. Recent calls by top U.S. diplomatic and military officials have given the cue America wants to see a larger role for India in post-pullout Afghanistan and in relations with China.
"I urge India's leaders to continue with additional support to Afghanistan through trade and investment, reconstruction and help for Afghan security forces," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in New Delhi on June 6.
"We both realize how important it is to ultimately have a stable Afghanistan if we are to have peace and prosperity in this region," he added, urging India to also continue furthering ties with Pakistan.
"Together we must continue laying the groundwork for the long-term vision of a New Silk Road," Clinton added today. "Both the United States and India have signed strategic partnership agreements with Afghanistan to demonstrate our enduring commitment, and I hope we can move toward a formal trilateral consultation among our three nations."
Finally, American leaders have put more pressure on India in recent months to assist them with their "Asia pivot" policy. While denying the policy is meant as a hedge toward China, the U.S. hopes help from India will ease tensions in the seas around the subcontinent and further beyond.
"We need to expand our work both bilaterally and through multilateral institutions such as the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum to work to build a regional architecture that will boost economic growth, settle disputes peacefully, and uphold universal rights and norms," Clinton said today, making a tacit reference to recent maritime disputes with China.
Directly citing "inevitable" doubts the U.S. and India could cooperate extensively on such a wide range of issues, Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said today "the question we ask now are how to harness the full potential of that relationship."
"But as I say, we have reasons to be satisfied but not complacent. So we hope, in the course of today, we will chart the course ahead both for the immediate future and the long term."
by RTT Staff Writer
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