Kerry heads to In­dia on charm of­fen­sive

Viet Nam News - - Asia -

NEWDELHI — US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry fore­cast a trans­for­ma­tion yes­ter­day in Wash­ing­ton’s re­la­tions with In­dia as he headed to New Delhi for talks with new Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi.

For the past two decades, the world’s two largest democ­ra­cies have de­scribed them­selves as nat­u­ral al­lies, shar­ing sim­i­lar con­cerns over Is­lamic ex­trem­ism.

A new row is brew­ing over a cus­toms deal but the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has been keen to em­pha­sise ar­eas where the two sides can make com­mon cause in the build-up to the visit by Kerry and US Com­merce Sec­re­tary Penny Pritzker who is al­ready in In­dia.

In a joint editorial with Pritzker in yes­ter­day ’ s Eco

nomic Times, Kerry said Modi’s strong man­date opened up pos­si­bil­i­ties for co-op­er­a­tion on is­sues from boost­ing trade to en­ergy.

“The long-stand­ing part­ner­ship be­tween the US and In­dia is on the cusp of an historic trans­for­ma­tion,” said the commentary in the Delhi-based daily.

“Work­ing to­gether, the world’s old­est democ­racy and the world’s largest democ­racy can forge a new era of shared pros­per­ity and se­cu­rity for hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple in In­dia, across Asia and the world.” The top US diplo­mat will hold talks with In­dian officials to­day and meet Modi to­mor­row, said a US of­fi­cial trav­el­ling with Kerry, who stopped for re­fu­elling in Ger­many.

For some ob­servers, Kerry’s three-day trip is in it­self a sign of In­dia’s im­por­tance. He has fo­cused much of his ten­ure on crises in the Mid­dle East, and re­turned just Sun­day from a gru­elling, un­suc­cess­ful mis­sion to end the Gaza con­flict.

“It is sig­nif­i­cant that the sec­re­tary is able to stick to mak­ing time for the Strate­gic Di­a­logue with In­dia when there are lit­er­ally parts of the world in flames,” said Alyssa Ayres, a for­mer State De­part­ment of­fi­cial.

Obama has in­vited Modi to the White House in Septem­ber. Modi does not ap­pear ea­ger to play up grudges and in­stead has shown prag­ma­tism, meet­ing in his first months in of­fice with the lead­ers of Pak­istan and China. —

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