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Digvijay Singh asked: What are the implications of the June 2013 India-US Strategic Dialogue for India?

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  • Saroj Bishoyi replies: The fourth India-US Strategic Dialogue, held in New Delhi on June 24-25, 2013, provided an opportunity for both India and the US to take stock of the overall strategic relationship and to rethink what further needs to be done to take it forward. It also provided an opportunity for India to highlight and discuss various pertinent issues. The successful conclusion of the Strategic Dialogue seems to have cleared the ambiguity on some issues which had arisen in recent times.

    The two sides discussed a wide range of bilateral issues, such as, energy, education, science and technology, trade and investment, nuclear, defence, counterterrorism, etc. They also discussed regional and global security issues, such as, Afghanistan, maritime security and climate change. Importantly, the US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid launched a Climate Working Group (CWG) to strengthen their partnership on climate change as an important area of bilateral cooperation. India’s Human Resource Development Minister M M Pallam Raju and Secretary Kerry co-chaired the India-US Higher Education Dialogue to further build on the cooperation in the higher education sector. On the implementation of the nuclear deal, Kerry announced that Westinghouse would sign a ‘commercial agreement’ to sell nuclear reactors to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India by September 2013.

    On India’s concern over the Washington’s negotiations with Taliban and the power transition in post-2014 Afghanistan, Kerry asserted that any political settlement must result in the Taliban breaking ties with the al-Qaeda, giving up violence and accepting the Afghan Constitution. Appreciating India’s constructive role in Afghanistan, he assured that India’s security interests will not be neglected while making any such settlement in future. The two sides also reviewed their close cooperation on the issue of India joining the four international export control regimes: the NSG, MTCR, WA and AG. Secretary Kerry reaffirmed US’ support for India’s full membership in these groups. He also reiterated US’ support for India’s permanent membership in the UN Security Council.

    The India-US Strategic Dialogue was inaugurated in 2009 with the primary aim of building a strong partnership between the two countries, based on their shared values and interests. At present, the India-US strategic partnership covers almost the entire field of human endeavour and the dialogue process has helped in building mutual trust and confidence between the two countries. Unlike the past, however, the two sides now realise that though they may not agree on every aspect of the strategic relationship, they do agree that building a strong partnership in the 21st century is in their national interests.

    The June 2013 dialogue, thus, provided a good opportunity for both the nations to reassess and discuss on how to take the relationship forward from the current plateau.