Kerry heads to India on charm offensive
NEWDELHI US Secretary of State John Kerry forecast a transformation yesterday in Washingtons relations with India as he headed to New Delhi for talks with new Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
For the past two decades, the worlds 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 Modis 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 worlds oldest democracy and the worlds 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, Kerrys three-day trip is in itself a sign of Indias 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.