India, US moving into 2016 with ambitious agenda: US envoy

Washington, Dec 30 (IANS) Describing 2015 as a transformative year in US-India relations, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma has said they are moving into 2016 with optimism and an ambitious agenda for the future.

“While we are proud of our accomplishments, we know there is much more we can do together,” he said in a year-end review of India-US relations.

“Building upon decades of hard work between our two nations — and millions of people to people ties — we have had a transformative year in US-India relations, further broadening and deepening our partnership in so many areas,” Verma said.

“It was also a year of firsts and many high points,” said the first US envoy of Indian descent in New Delhi.

Barack Obama was the first US president to be the chief guest for India’s Republic Day ceremonies in January, noted Verma listing several other firsts.

These included establishing secure lines between Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and their National Security Advisors “so that important, time sensitive issues could be tackled directly by our leaders”.

The two sides also “held the first-ever Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, merging our commercial and strategic issues to help power the growth of both of our countries”.

Noting that India and the US had “moved beyond a buyer/seller relationship in our defence relationship to one of joint production and co-development”, Verma said: “We elevated our strategic partnership to ‘strategic plus’.”

This signified “that we work together at a much higher level, in more places, and on more different subjects”, he said.

The two countries exceeded all previous records in two-way trade and foreign direct investments, totalling over $102 billion, Verma said. Indian companies invested some $11 billion in the US, while US investments in India topped $28 billion.

A new Innovation Forum was created to build upon Modi’s successful visit to Silicon Valley, and help leverage the use of technology in a wide range of areas, including building new smart cities and modern infrastructure.

On the climate and clean energy front, the US and India played a leadership role in constructing and finalising a historic agreement to combat climate change, Verma said.

“As we move into 2016, we do so with optimism and an ambitious agenda for the future,” Verma said. “While we are proud of our accomplishments, we know there is much more we can do together.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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