US Embassy broke records in every category: Envoy

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New Delhi, Dec 7 (IANS) The US Embassy here has broken records “in every category” in the last two years, Ambassador Richard Verma has said of the time he has served here.

In the last two years, “we have broken every record in every category”, Verma said while delivering a talk on India-US relationshere on Tuesday. The Indo-American Friendship Association (IAFA) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organised the talk.

“Two-way trade stands at $110 billion, three times higher than it was just eight years ago,” he said.

“Defence deals are now worth $15 billion, that’s the highest ever and we are now among the top providers of defence and military equipment to India,” Verma, a person of Indian origin, said.

Stating that bilateral defence ties have gone beyond the buyer-seller relationship, he said that India was now a major defence partner of the US.

“Last year we issued more visas than any time of in our history – 1.1 million visas issued last year.”

Verma said that 166,000 Indian students were studying in the US, up by 20 percent from last year.

“Agriculture, a subject that is supposed to divide us — $6 billion trade in agriculture,” he stated.

The Ambassador said that on the government-to-government side, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama met nine times in two years.

“We have had three summits. Anyone who is working in government knows that a summit is a pretty unusual thing. It brings together all of your government. So, we have had three in two years.”

Verma said that coming out of these three summits, “we have 100 new initiatives”.

“We have over 40 government-to-government working groups.”

He said that according to Secretary of State John Kerry, the US had more government-to-government interactions with India than any other country.

He referred to Modi’s speech in the US Congress earlier this year in which he said that India saw the US as “an indispensable partner in every sector”.

“And that’s true, we can see that. From education to healthcare… to science and innovation, we are now engaged with our Indian counterparts in a way we have never been before.”

Verma also referred to Modi’s statement that “we will overcome the hesitations of history”.

Stating that “we have a Prime Minister and a President who realise that we need each other”, the Ambassador said: “In the last two years, we have recaptured the Kennedy-Nehru days.”

–IANS

ab/vt

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