WASHINGTON: The Obama administration hopes that Indo-U.S. strategic relationship would not only strengthen but would also reach a new high under Narendra Modi-led government, which has earned a strong and decisive mandate from the people of the country the first in 30 years.
"We see that there is tremendous scope for what we can do together that would benefit not only our own two countries but also hopefully have global benefit," she told a group of Indian reporters in a media roundtable.
"The U.S. India relationship is important not only because it is a relationship that advances the interest of the United States and that of India, but it is an important relationship because when the world’s largest democracies and world’s largest democracies partner together, we have the ability to advance and bring global benefit," she said.
"This is what drives us even through tough times, because at the end of the day this is the relationship that meets the aspirations of large segment of humanity," said Biswal, who would be headed for Central Asia soon. There is definitely a possibility for her to swing through New Delhi. As such she would be the first top US diplomat to have interaction with the Modi Government.
"So to say that this is not a strategic relationship is categorically false. I think in every understanding of that terminology, U.S. India relationship hits the bill. And I see that becoming even more so the case," Biswal said in response to a question.
"Certainly not," Biswal said when asked about news reports that Modi's first overseas trip would be to Japan, China or Bangladesh and not the U.S.
"We fully understand and expect that the Prime Minister will make his own set of engagements to what he needs to do," she said.
"We look forward to welcoming him at the earliest opportunity. We also recognize that he has to set his own agenda. That Modi's first overseas travel to Japan, China or Bangladesh) does not cause any concern here," she said.
Biswal said that it's America's hope and expectations that "this is a mandate for economic opportunity" that brings all Indians together.
Acknowledging that there is certain amount of anxiety across the region including India on post-2014 transition in Afghanistan, Biswal asserted that things are moving in a very positive direction."We have a trilateral dialogue with India on Afghanistan, specifically for co-ordination and sharing of information and making sure that we are working together, as we look at this transition and we look forward to consultations that we have on a periodic basis with India on a bilateral basis, on what we see happening in the region," she said.
Responding to questions on Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade issue, which threatened to derail the bilateral ties last November, Biswal said one of the lessons learnt by the U.S. is to have greater understanding and better co-ordination of information.
"Some of the lessons we have learnt are lessons of trying to have an advanced knowledge of understanding of how different events are going to unfold, which quite frankly we did not had an understanding of," she said.
Biswal said President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have conveyed the deep regard that the U.S. has for India, for its democracy and the civil society and the importance that they place on this relationship and how they look forward to engaging with India.
"We also recognize that any new government coming in needs the time and space to organize itself to set its priorities," she said, adding that the U.S. sees a great interest in supporting India's Look East engagement.
"The fact that as you have this transition happening in Myanmar that the opportunities for connectivity between South Asia and South East Asia is something that we absolutely believe in and want support. That is a key aspect of the conversations that we have in U.S. India Japan bilateral," she added.
"We also see that increasingly plays a very important role as you look at issues of security, across the airspace, maritime security and open sea lanes... That is an important area of our relationship. The defense partnership has been tremendous and seen tremendous transformation over the past decade and the one that we see continued area of growth," Biswal said.
"The energy dialogue has been very strong dialogues as we look at India's growing energy needs and looking at ways that we can support energy access for India both in terms of clean, renewable energy in terms of increasing access for the 40 per cent of Indians that right now do not have reliable access to power. There is a role that the U.S. can play helping India meets its own goals and aspirations," she said.