Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Views of US Secretary of State #John Kerry on US-#India Strategic Dialogue

The Strategic Dialogue itself is going to focus on some of the big priorities that Prime Minister Modi and the Modi government have put forward on economic revitalization, on energy security, on homeland security, as well as the robust cooperation between our two countries in science and technology, in space, in skills and education, and in health.

We will have bilateral consultations with the External Affairs minister on a range of regional issues, including, of course, the political and security transition in Afghanistan, other relationships in the region, including the India-Pakistan relationship, India’s engagement in East Asia. And then we will also be having – he will also be meeting with the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, with Minister of Finance and Minister of Defense, which is concurrently held right now by Arun Jaitley. And the final meeting that the Secretary will have in the government will be with the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. That’ll take place on Friday.
In addition to the government meetings, the Secretary and Secretary Pritzker, who will also be joining the Strategic Dialogue along with Deputy Secretary of Energy Poneman, will attend a dinner with Indian CEOs on Wednesday night after we land. It’s an opportunity to hear from the Indian private sector about the opportunity that they see in the Modi government for India’s economy, and to hear also about what are the challenges, the constraints on a more robust partnership between the United States and India on the economic front.
We will also have a roundtable conversation that Secretary Kerry and Secretary Pritzker will participate in with Brookings India that will focus on climate and energy issues. And that’ll be an opportunity to engage in a private discussion with key experts and think tanks and academics on the important issues of sustainable growth, energy security, clean energy, and climate change. That’ll be a roundtable discussion over lunch on Thursday.
That pretty much rounds out the schedule that the Secretary has. We may have, in addition, a opportunity to do an additional public event, but we’re still working out all the details of that, so we’ll probably be able to give you more information on that as we get closer to landing.
With that, I think the key focus here is going to be through both the bilateral engagements and through the broader Strategic Dialogue in how we position the U.S.-India partnership and prioritize the issues in that partnership to really deepen and strengthen the engagement between our two countries. And as we see a new government coming in that has an ambitious agenda, what we can do to help that government realize its agenda, because we see India’s economic rise as something that is deeply in the U.S. interest. And we believe that American companies have a role to play in that rise, and so part of the discussion over the next two days is really going to be focusing in on what are the shared priorities and shared goals that we want to focus on.
With respect to the energy sector, of course we had the Energy Dialogue earlier this year, and this is a key area of our partnership. I know that there’s an opportunity to engage the Indian Government on various aspects of energy security. We’re going to be looking at conversations that Deputy Secretary Poneman and his team and DAS Amos Hochstein from the State Department can have looking at both the civil-nuke arena and start to engage the government on the way forward there, also have conversations around clean energy. We have the partnership for clean energy between the United States and India, which has already enabled about two billion in financing for clean technology and to look at where we can go with that.
And on homeland security, we have Under Secretary of Homeland Security Frank Taylor who’s part of the delegation, and he will be joined by the State Department’s Assistant Secretary Tina Kaidanow. And they’re going to be looking at ways that we can strengthen the counterterrorism collaboration both in terms of the intelligence sharing and joint trainings and such that we do, but also in terms of where we go on advancing our technology partnership with India on counterterrorism as well. So those are specific areas that they’re going to be looking to try to move forward on.
With respect to the WTO, this is an area where we are in ongoing discussion with our Indian friends, because we believe that if the trade facilitation agreement does not move forward, that that really does on the one hand bring down an agreement that stands to provide tremendous benefits to developing economies around the world.
And secondly, we don’t think it’s in India’s interests. I do think that the Indian Government has made clear that they have some concerns about food security, and we certainly understand those concerns. The Bali agreement sought to put – bring into balance both those concerns and advance the trade facilitation agreement. We’re hopeful that as we engage in those further conversations over the next few days that some agreement will emerge that will allow the TFA to move forward. We think that that is India’s interest, and we hope that that’s going to be the right outcome.
On issues of human rights, issues of political inclusion, of religious freedom, are issues that we raise in every relationship we have with every country, with every government, and it has been a consistent element of our dialogue with India throughout our decades-long relationship, and we expect that to continue to be the case with this government. In fact, with us on this plane is our Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, Ambassador Cathy Russell, who hopes to be engaging in a women’s empowerment dialogue with the Indian Government that we hope to launch this fall.
And we have a global issues forum with our under secretary at the under secretary-level with the Indian foreign secretary, where we talk about issues of human rights, religious freedom, issues of gender, issues of rights for other minorities, for LGBT rights, and other issues like that. And we will continue to have that forum. But I also expect that we will engage at the leader level as well, and I know that the Secretary noted in his remarks yesterday that when the prime minister says that he wants to pursue an agenda of inclusive development, that that is something that we absolutely support and want to see happen, and we look forward to engaging on that basis.
The other element that I may not have stressed enough was on the education and skills side of it, which is a large – a big priority for the Modi government and where we have a lot of collaboration. And we’re going to be looking to see what we can do to advance the higher education partnership and what we can do to really move forward on the Community College Initiative, because the Modi government has said that they want to be able to establish 10,000 community colleges across India, and we think that the United States brings a lot off– again, through our excellent community college system – a lot of opportunity here for our institutions to collaborate in India and set up Indian institutions as well. So we look forward to seeing what we can do there.
By and large, we have aligned our agendas on the issues that we want to talk about, both in terms of the bilateral relationship, on the economic, the energy, the homeland security, and education, but also on the regional agenda. And I think what we have heard increasingly from the Indians is their desire to have closer consultation with us on the region, and we welcome that and we look forward to that, and I know that the Secretary is looking forward to engaging on those issues.