U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry might have skipped India for now but Indian diplomats say “the intense engagement” between both countries is set to continue during President Barack Obama’s second term in office.
In the first two months of 2013, India hosted a number of senior delegations, including one round of the India-U.S.-Afghanistan trilateral process, a visit by Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs Tara Sonnenshine leading a delegation of the heads of 12 community colleges in the U.S. and delegations from Defence, the Department of Justice and several others.
From India, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai initiated the first formal consultations with the new U.S. Administration. He visited Washington DC between February 20 and 22 during which he called on Mr. Kerry, among other important interlocutors.
In the next three months, no fewer than four ministerial-level visits from India are being planned, as well as a number of high-ranking official visits.
While Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is in Washington for the annual Governing Board meeting of the IMF and the World Bank and for investor roundtables in New York and Boston, a visit by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for the Homeland Security Dialogue, by Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma and by Human Resource Development Minister M.M. Pallam Raju is on the cards.
Co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Physics and U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will be holding the Clean Energy Ministerial with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia from Tuesday.
Senior official-level delegations are also in the works, including those from the Finance (Department of Economic Affairs), Commerce and Defence Ministries.
The Joint Working Group on Space met last week in Washington DC and agreed to consider new programmes of cooperation, including in exploration of the Mars, and other programmes of common interest. It is also anticipated that the Indian and U.S. defence forces will continue programmes of joint exercises over the course of the next few months.
Later this summer, Mr. Kerry is expected to lead a high-level delegation to India to co-chair with India’s External Affairs Minister the Fourth India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue. Dates for this are under active consideration.
Officials pointed out that continued engagement helped increase the bilateral trade from $66 billion to $93 billion in four years and it would cross $100 billion this year. Indian foreign direct investment in the U.S. rose from $227 million 10 years ago to nearly $5 billion in 2011.
The growing defence trade only adds to the figures for merchandise and services trade.
The U.S. has also been encouraging India to become an integral part of the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor and looks upon the Indian Navy as a key component in ensuring maritime security. The two sides also agree on a more economically integrated South and Central Asia.