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.
Posts Tagged ‘Counterterrorism’
We welcomed this week our Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) Ambassador Marc Grossman, who was making his first visit to India since taking on this important assignment. Following in the tradition of former SRAP Richard Holbrooke, Ambassador Grossman used his time in Delhi for strategic dialogue consultations with senior Indian government officials on our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to discuss the many ways the U.S.-India global partnership can benefit the people of Afghanistan through several joint projects. This was an excellent start to what I am sure will be very close relations and important consultations between Ambassador Grossman and the Indian government.
Over all, it was a great week for me to have meetings with Members of Congress, work on interagency coordination in our government, and reconnect with fellow ambassadors.
Air Force One touched down in Mumbai on November 6 and a historic and seminal visit began. It was an extremely busy first day and an emotional one, as the President and First Lady stayed at the Taj Mahal Hotel, which was attacked by ten terrorists on 26/11. I was with the President when he met with family members who survived the shooting and grenade throwing rampage, and he talked with one manager from the hotel who lost his wife and two children. He met an American who had lost her husband and her daughter in the attack at the Oberoi Hotel. In all, 170 lives were lost. President Obama was visibly moved by their stories and mentioned to me later in the car how inspired he was by their courage, as some of the survivors had saved lives in heroic action that day. Several people had started life anew and one had initiated a new organization to assist victims. President Obama stated later in his speech in front of the Gateway of India how both the U.S. and India had similar tragic experiences with terrorism that resulted in closer relations and cooperation.
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.
India celebrated its Independence Day in grand style, opening the festivities with Prime Minister Singh delivering a speech at the top of the historic Red Fort, overlooking old Delhi. At a Mass I attended later that morning, the Catholic priest announced that we would be recognizing both the Feast of the Assumption of Mary and the independence of the great nation of India. India’s flags were displayed in front of the altar. While churches in America often have the U.S. flag somewhere in the building, it was new to me to see them displayed this way.
In Mumbai, great news was announced as part of the day’s activities when the Taj Mahal Hotel (attacked on 26/11) reopened, sending a signal to terror groups in the region that democracy and rule of law win out! The day concluded with an event at Rashtrapati Bhavan, where I had the opportunity to personally congratulate the Prime Minister and the Minister of External Affairs on India’s grand accomplishment of non-violent struggle for independence and freedom.
The past week has been extremely busy with high level government officials visiting Delhi. We have had Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen meet several of their counterparts in the Indian government. The discussions addressed our shared objectives of a stable, independent, and inclusive Afghanistan, and the increasingly global threat posed by Pakistan-based terrorist organizations, including LeT. The talks also affirmed the high value and strategic importance of India’s development assistance to Afghanistan. Security issues are central to future economic growth and inclusive development for this region. India plays a pivotal role.
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.
The Strategic Dialogue with India continued today with a deep and broad discussion in a plenary session touching on several key proposals.
The Indian delegation, lead by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, brought up several key issues including the threat posed by transnational terrorism, which struck the US on 9/11 and Mumbai on 26/11. India was attacked recently in February in the city of Pune by extremists and the U.S. was also threatened with a car packed with explosives recently in Times Square. Both sides pledged to work together to further improve our counterterrorism practices and cooperate on shaping a peaceful and prosperous 21st century.
The discussion between participants included proposals to improve trade and commerce through the exchange of technology, increase efforts to combine research and resources on clean energy, work collectively on education and community colleges, identify development programs to partner on in Afghanistan, and see where common goals come together on Food Security in Africa. The range of topics also covered military cooperation, knowledge societies, women’s empowerment, export controls and technology cooperation, and even building ties toward 2030.
The Indian side included Foreign Secretary Rao, Minister Kapil Sibal, Minister Chavan, Deputy Chairman Dr. Ahluwalia, and Ambassador Shankar. Several prominent secretaries and officials joined them, comprising a very skilled and powerful delegation. The U.S. side was strongly represented by Commerce Secretary Locke, FBI Director Mueller, Under Secretary Burns, Special Envoy Stern, UnderSecretary for Defense Flournoy, White House Science Advisor Dr. Holdren and USAID Administrator Shah. Several talented and articulate advisors and deputies joined them.
President Obama joined the celebration and partnership at the grand reception in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department. This was truly symbolic of the high priority the Obama Adminstration puts on India.
Let me hear from you on your ideas about how to further improve the U.S.-India partnership.