NEW YORK: The U.S. is looking forward to a "very substantive and consequential" visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington later next month and is working on a "pretty ambitious roadmap" for his bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama, a top American official said.
Speaking at the Foreign Press Centre on 'U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities in India', Biswal said the India-U.S. relationship is at a "pivotal moment of opportunity".
"This is a relationship that carries a great deal of importance and meaning to the U.S. and is at a critical moment of opportunity and we want to make sure we work very closely with our counterparts in India in realising that opportunity," she said.
India and the U.S. discussed a broad range of issues in the Strategic Dialogue that was chaired by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on August 1. The dialogue focussed on strengthening cooperation in economic opportunity, energy security, homeland security, education, space and vocational training.
"These are all areas where we are looking to see some concrete announcements. I don't have that to give to you right now but that is what the homework assignment has been for the two sides to be working on over the next six weeks," Biswal said.
She said that Kerry and Modi were "very focussed" on taking all of the "positive energy" of the Strategic Dialogue and their first meeting and "making it, translating it into concrete actions".
The two "essentially tasked both teams to work together over the next six weeks to see how we can create some specific initiatives, specific actions that can be launched during the visit of Modi in September.
"This is a very broad relationship between our two countries and societies. It is not about one or two things, it is about how we are partnering across this large scope of our two democracies to advance shared goals and objectives," she said.
Biswal said there would be "very broad discussions" between the two leaders that will encompass a wide range of issues.
"We will be looking to see how we can strengthen and deepen the partnership and where we see great areas of convergence and what we can do where we see areas of divergence try to bring more convergence in those areas," she said adding that the U.S. is looking at a very "robust agenda" and looking forward to Modi's visit. Biswal said that following his meetings with Modi and senior Indian government officials, Kerry came away "with a conviction that there is an enormous amount of energy, enormous amount of opportunity, possibility that we want to focus on."
The Strategic Dialogue was a forum where the U.S. officials were able to sit down with their Indian government counterparts to "lay a bit of a path" for what kinds of actions and initiatives the two nations want to focus on.
Biswal said in the economic sphere, there is a great deal of desire to see what can be done to create an infrastructure platform that will allow American companies to be able to focus their tools, technologies and capabilities around the priorities identified by the Indian government.
"This would essentially allow a bit of information, analysis and match making to take place and this is something that both sides are working on," she said.
Biswal said the U.S. is also very focussed on Modi's desire to boost manufacturing adding that they are more possibilities ahead of investments by major U.S. companies into creating manufacturing platforms in India.
"We think that fundamentally for these things to really launch in a big way, both countries need to work together to create the right enabling environment, so that the regulatory and policy environment is one that is conducive of attracting the maximum amount of investment collaboration. That requires actions in both countries. So we are looking to see how we can work together to advance that," she said.
Another area identified by the Indian government as a key priority is energy security.