When I first arrived in India two years ago, the most common question I received was, “What is the next big thing in the U.S. – India strategic partnership?” The answer is, “There is no one thing.” We have a global partnership today with India. Over the past several years, our partnership has expanded and broadened onto the world stage and we are now collaborating in almost every field of human endeavor. We are working extremely closely on a security partnership sharing intelligence, sharing best practices, and sharing David Headley. We can cooperate in civil space and defense due to President Obama’s leadership in reforming our export control regime and removing Indian entities from our restricted lists. There is the possibility for $10-12 billion in defense sales in the next few years (C-17s. C-130Js, Apache helicopters, etc.). Yet, our defense cooperation is not just about military sales. It is about joint exercises, personnel exchanges, and professional military education that we conduct together, which is improving our capabilities in bringing humanitarian assistance to people in need, keeping shipping lanes open, and providing security to the region. Maritime security and anti-piracy efforts can grow. Two-way trade was up 30 percent in 2010 with opportunities for more in clean energy, technology, infrastructure, and services to name a few. We are partnering in health, education, and in third countries like Afghanistan and in Africa. The progress the U.S.-India global partnership has made under President Obama and Prime Minister Singh’s leadership has brought our two countries together in ways that were unthinkable just a decade ago. With our shared values and shared interests, our two powerful democracies have an opportunity to shape the world in a very positive way.
Archive for the ‘Security’ Category
In Memoriam to the nearly 3,000 people who were brutally attacked on 9/11 in New York City, the Pentagon, and who died in a field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, I recall the many different nationalities and religions that these patriots represented in America. As I think back on my visit to Ground Zero a few days after, I still picture the people lined up across the crumbled buildings to volunteer their help. I still smell the foul odor of smoke and can taste the ash that sprinkled the cars and streets. And I can still hear the stories of courage from rescue workers who ran up the stairs in the Towers to assist others when so many were running down those steps to their safety. Despite it being one of the most difficult days in our history, the best traits of America came shining through that day — bravery, volunteerism, and self-sacrifice. Nine years later, as we honor our lost ones and vow to never forget their accomplishments, let us work to respect different religions and recognize that they all share common values of compassion, community, and concern for their respective citizens. Practicing this will also prove to be one of the most valuable ways to defeat the terrorists in the years ahead.
Friday, I signed the Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative (CCI) with Home Secretary Pillai and Foreign Secretary Rao. A few years ago no one would have imagined the depth and breadth of this relationship, let alone the level of sensitive and sophisticated sharing of high level information between our two countries. A few months ago we worked together on gaining access for India to David Headley, one of the notorious conspirators in the terror attacks on Mumbai. This new CCI will provide even more opportunities for us to share best practices to strengthen capacity building, forensic and investigative techniques, and port and border security. This initiative will also offer opportunities to work jointly on one of the most challenging and difficult problems of this century—cyber security. Now, with scores of threats from groups like AQ and LeT, we must forge ahead to execute this unprecedented agreement.
History is made with direct access to Headley, a key planner of the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. We worked this issue night and day at the highest levels of the American government. These unprecedented and productive interviews were conducted by the Indian government over a seven day period. We worked our fingers to the bone to make this happen and we are extremely proud of the outcome. This process is symbolic of our overall close collaboration with India on counterterrorism issues.
David Headley’s significance and symbolism in India to the bloodthirsty terrorism of Mumbai is similar in some ways to Osama Bin Laden’s connection to 9/11 for America. We understand this deep anger and commitment to achieve justice for all the victims of this tragic violence. We are literally working night and day at the highest levels of our government to resolve this issue of direct access to Headley. I have been “burning the midnight oil” in late night discussions all week with the White House, Attorney General, FBI officials, counter terrorism experts and State Department personnel. While “indirect access” (which we currently provide) might result in the exchange of more timely and effective intelligence for the Government of India, we will hopefully resolve the legal modalities of direct access in the days ahead. This is of vital importance to the people of India.