Secretary Blake Previews US-India Strategic Dialogue

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to host Indian delegation on June 13

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Washington – The United States held an official curtain raiser of the US-India Strategic Dialogue, touching on the determination of both nations to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to book.

Addressing a select audience of journalists and leaders of the Indian American community at the US-India World Affairs Institute in Washington DC on Monday, Robert Blake, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, said Delhi and Washington had discussed efforts this year “to see the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks brought to justice.”

Citing the recently held 13th annual Counterterrorism Joint Working Group meeting in Washington, attended by Ambassador Dan Benjamin, the State Department’s Counterterrorism Coordinator, and his Indian counterpart, Special Secretary Asoke Mukerji, Blake stressed the growing cooperation in the field of counterterrorism and homeland security.

“Over the last three years, our two exceptional nations have expanded our areas of cooperation to reflect 21st century needs,” Blake said, ahead of next week’s third joint Strategic Dialogue, which will be attended by visiting Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna and hosted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Blake said, “It is not an exaggeration to say that even the sky is not the limit because we are talking about cooperation in space as well,” adding, “There is perhaps no country in the world with whom we have traveled faster and farther than India over the last ten years.”

Stressing, “the crucial people-to-people ties that bind our two great countries and form a network of partnership that undergirds everything we do,” Secretary Blake praised the Indian American community, saying, “From Congress to the National Spelling Bee, the Indian American community is one of the most energetic and successful diaspora groups in the United States.”

“You have one of the highest per capita incomes of any diaspora group, and Indian Americans are increasingly active in American politics as the success of Governors Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley and so many others shows,” continued Blake.

“Indian Americans who work tirelessly to improve ties between the United States and India and the lives of their fellow citizens in both countries are a powerful symbol of the best of America: our commitment to community service, our idealism, and our optimism,” said Blake.

Blake highlighted the presence of more than 1.5 million non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in India and announced future initiatives to match “a list of certified Indian NGOs with potential American donors,” to create “an efficient philanthropy marketplace that will grow the overall sector, making it a win-win proposition for all.”

Another new Passport to India initiative is set to significantly increase the number of Americans who visit India for a study and learning experience said Blake, describing an effort to increase the number of US students in India from the meager 4,000 at present (there are nearly 104,000 Indians studying in the US).

There will also be an announcement at the Dialogue of eight new partnership projects to be funded jointly by the United States and India through the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, disclosed Blake, adding, “These three-year, approximately quarter-million dollar grants will be used for joint projects between American and Indian universities in the areas of food security, energy, climate change and public health, among others.”

On the rise of India on the global canvas, along with a growing strategic convergence between the two “great democracies … two great market economies,” Blake said, “Perhaps most of all we have capacity for innovation.”

Summing up the US interest in India, Secretary Blake said the US was investing its time and energy to foster its relations with India because it believed India has the institutional capacity to become a world power.

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