WASHINGTON: Ahead of an important India visit of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, a top Obama Administration official today said that the Asian nation has an increasingly vital role to play at the global stage.
Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee's subcommittee on the Asia and the Pacific, she said India's rise as a regional and global leader, and its economic and strategic growth, are deeply in the U.S. interest.
Highly appreciative of India's 'Look East' Policy and its engagement with Southeast Asia and East Asia, at a time of opening in Myanmar, Biswal insisted this is the reason why the United States is making the "strategic bet" on India.
Asserting that the Obama Administration is committed to a "strong and influential India" in the security realm, Biswal said India is a regional and emerging global power, as well as provider of security and a strategic partner with shared interests from the Indian Ocean to Afghanistan and beyond.
She said the new Indian government has identified infrastructure, manufacturing, modernizing the military, energy security, attracting greater foreign investment, and expanding access to skills training and education as its key priorities.
"In all the areas that the Modi government has identified as priorities, we think the United States, including our businesses and universities, can play an important role in helping address the challenges India faces and creating opportunities that benefit both countries," she said.In favor of an early conclusion of Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with India, Biswal said this would help support key economic objectives for both countries, from protection of investment interests overseas to the promotion of market-oriented policies and exports.
A BIT would also greatly improve two-way investment flows. That's good for the U.S. economy.
"Increasing Indian foreign direct investment in the U.S. would expand American jobs in a variety of professional, scientific, and technical sectors that have traditionally attracted Indian investment," she said.
"Trade expansion also benefits families and businesses by supporting productive, high-paying jobs in exports and increasing the variety of products available for purchase," she said.
Biswal said the India-U.S. bilateral engagements over the next several months will reinforce their strategic, economic and people-to-people ties.
"The Strategic Dialogue will kick off a series of high-level visits throughout late summer and fall, culminating in the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Washington at the invitation of the President," she said.
"We think, this is a time of tremendous potential for the U.S. India partnership. By reinvigorating this partnership and setting ambitious new goals for the future, we are making future generations of Americans and Indians safer and more prosperous and helping strengthen stability and around the world," Biswal told the lawmakers.
In his remarks, Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in every aspect – whether it be in political, economic or security relations – the United States has no more important partner in South Asia.
"It is not an overstatement to say that the U.S.-India relationship will help define the future of the region," he said, adding he has joined with other Congressmen in inviting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address a Joint Meeting of Congress when he travels to Washington in September.
Royce exuded optimism that the mandate given to Modi will help India thrives economically, lifting countless people out of poverty.
"India has the opportunity to implement important reforms such as the privatization of state-run banks and the relinquishing of the government’s control of coal production. Modi’s historic victory has granted him a mandate unseen in decades," he said.
"If Modi is successful, all Indians will have an opportunity to unleash their abundant economic talent and potential, as Gujartis have. He now has the opportunity to reinvigorate India’s economy and bring new energy to U.S.-India relations," Royce said.