US Ambassador Verma Sums Up 2016 Bilateral Partnership Highlights with India

Ambassador Richard R. Verma at the inaugural plenary of Indo-Asia Connectivity for Shared Prosperity in Kolkata on December 14, 2016

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New Delhi – The United States made giant strides in expanding bilateral cooperation with India over the past year according to Richard Verma, US Ambassador to India.

“2016 was yet another banner year in the bilateral relationship. We made significant gains in defense, trade, energy, health, science and innovation and so much more,” said Verma in an email message.

Highlighting a ten-day period in late August which vividly illustrated the new-found energy, Verma noted, “During those ten days, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi met two times, first at the G-20 in Hangzhou and then a few days later in Laos at the East Asia Summit, bringing their official meeting count up to eight. At the same time, Secretary Kerry and Secretary Pritzker were in Delhi for the second annual Strategic and Commercial Dialogue and Defense Minister Parrikar was in Washington meeting with Secretary Carter to finalize a long-pending logistics agreement.”

Verma listed a few notable achievements since the last mid-year update:

· The number of Indian students studying in the United States surged to an all-time high of 166,000 – a near 20 percent increase from the previous year.

· The United States and India agreed to co-host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India in 2017. This is an event that will bring together thousands of entrepreneurs from across the world to bolster the innovation ecosystem in India and the United States.

· Both countries finalized India’s status as a Major Defense Partner, ensuring India will be treated as a close friend and ally of the United States for purposes of technology transfer. Our defense trade grew to over $15 billion with the recent conclusion of the long awaited M777 advanced howitzer sale. Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Carter met with the Indian Minister of Defense for a record-setting seventh meeting in two years.

· The second Strategic and Commercial Dialogue was held here in New Delhi in August, which brought together the commercial and foreign policy arms of our two governments, and resulted in the finalization of new agreements in cyber security, travel & tourism and homeland security.

· On climate change, we worked closely with India to bring the Paris Agreement into force and to secure a phasedown of dangerous HFC gases under the Montreal Protocol. And in our clean energy cooperation, we launched a new Clean Energy Finance Initiative for solar power projects in India, and Westinghouse presented its commercial offer to construct six nuclear reactors in Andhra Pradesh.

· In development and health, we continued our path-breaking work with India to help end tuberculosis. We worked hand-in-hand to strengthen our abilities to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats through our commitment to the Global Health Security Agenda.

· We took our development work abroad with joint US-India efforts to train African farmers and Afghan women entrepreneurs. We even jointly trained dozens of UN peacekeepers from Africa here in New Delhi through a joint US-India training initiative.

· The new-found closeness in our partnership is reflected in the significant increases in processing of tourist and business visas – over 1 million Indians traveled to the United States in 2016, which reflects yet another increase over the prior year, and over 1.2 million Americans traveled to India, also a record.

· And we continued our fast-paced and comprehensive public diplomacy efforts. I continued an aggressive travel schedule, having made it now to 27 of India’s 29 states (we will reach the remaining two states in January!) and our social media platforms did exceptionally well. The Embassy Facebook account just crossed 1 million followers!

Ambassador Verna expressed confidence saying, “This momentum and upward trajectory in our relationship will continue in the months and years ahead. We have so many shared interests and values – our countries will continue to be drawn together and make a positive impact on global peace and prosperity.”

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