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Convergence of views new normal in our ties: US envoy to India

Convergence of views new normal in our ties: US envoy to India

New Delhi: US Ambassador to India Richard Verma today reiterated that convergence of views was the “new normal” in Indo-US ties which is “based on results” and not on “rhetoric”, seeking to assuage nerves in New Delhi on Donald Trump’s election as President.

Verma said the next administration in Washington will consider strengthening ties with India as one of its top priorities as the the two countries are “natural partners” at a time when the post World War-II order and its institutions are “under assault”.

He was speaking on the future of India-US relations under the new administration, two days after Republican Party nominee Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States, clinching a stunning victory against Hillary Clinton.

“Even on issues that have divided us on recent years, climate change for example…there is convergence. Who would have thought that the US and India would lead the world to a global climate agreement? This is the new normal – strategic, political and economic convergence,” Verma said.

In his nearly 20-minute speech, Verma, who is of India- origin, did not refer to Trump even once.

Recently, speaking at Jamia Millia University, he had reached out to Muslims, denouncing the “unacceptable rhetoric” against the community during the election campaigns in the US.

He listed four reasons as to why further building and strengthening of the US-India relationship will be one of the top priorities of Trump administration, including “a strong bipartisan consensus” in Washington in this regard.

“At a time of deep political polarisation in our country, enhancing the US India partnership is something that is refreshingly unifying across the political divide. We have greater convergence on the big issues of the day. We have made it clear that we support India’s rise as a global power.

“We see the impact in our counter-terror declarations and the condemnation of terrorism of all forms including cross- border terrorism, our renewed convergence on issues related to Afghanistan, our trilateral cooperation with Japan,” he said.

Verma, who took over as the US’ top envoy in New Delhi in 2014, said shared values and systems including constitutional democracies, inclusive societies, protection of minority rights, free speech, assembly and religion are among the other major reasons that hold the two countries together.

“Our relationship is not just based on rhetoric but results. In this era of doubts about the benefits of globalisation, this is a shining example of success that stands out in the crowd,” he said.

Speaking at the event, organised by trade chamber FICCI, Verma said the number of Indian students studying in the US, which is at its highest now, has seen a substantial jump and the new figures will be announced next week.

Verma said nearly 1.1 million visas were issued for Indian visitors to the US last year which is “three times greater” than it was 10 years ago.

On the day of Trump’s election, Verma had said the Indo- US ties, built on shared democratic values, “go beyond” the friendship of the American President and the Indian Prime Minister.

Ambassador Arun Singh, who was until recently India’s envoy to US, was present on the occasion. He said India will have to continue pushing the argument that Indian skilled workforce is contributing to the US economy to counter Trump’s anti-immigrants stance.

Touching on the same subject, Rajan Bharti Mittal of Bharti enterprises said although there is no problem with the argument that “jobs has to be brought back”, there has to be a “give and take” relationship.

Later, Verma said amid declining exports across the world, two-way trade between India and the US has actually increased. The vision of India as outsourcing destination is somehow an “outdated view”, he said.

“Not every country in the world has chosen the systems that we have and in today’s world where the post World War II order and its institutions are increasingly under assault, US and India are such natural partners or natural allies as the Prime Minister likes to say,” he said.

Appearing to strike a farewell note, Verma thanked the US embassy team here and officials across the two administrations for taking bilateral ties to new heights in the past two years.

“I am quite bullish about our future and confident our strong relationship would continue into the next administration and we are committed to make this relationship even stronger in the years to come,” Verma said.

PTI