Kerry power for India-US ties

US Secretary of State John F. Kerry, an ardent proponent of stronger India-US relations, is set to put his stamp on the burgeoning strategic partnership between the world’s two largest democracies.

Kerry, who recently took charge as the Obama administration’s chief foreign policy pointsman, rang up India’s Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid in the Chilean capital Santiago Feb 5 and voiced his resolve to expand the canvas of the India-US partnership.

The bonhomie and warmth flowed, with Kerry fondly recalling his visit to India two decades ago when he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was then finance minister, and the country had launched the first wave of economic reforms.

The Indian foreign minister, who is on a tour to Chile and Argentina to advance New Delhi’s diplomatic footprints in Latin America, lauded Kerry’s contribution to advancing the India-US relationship during his tenure as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Kerry will be coming to India for the Third Annual India-US Strategic Dialogue later in the year.

Kerry has underlined the importance of bolstering people-to-people and public diplomacy relations with India.

During the confirmation hearings for US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell in February, Kerry, a Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, had eloquently pitched for a “central role” for India in international affairs.

Kerry, who had chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since 2009, described the India-US ties as “without doubt one of the most significant partnerships in US foreign policy.

“On all of the most critical global challenges that we face, India really has a central role to play. And that means that Washington is going to be looking to New Delhi not only for cooperation, but increasingly for innovation, for regional leadership,” he had said.

“India’s growing significance has been clear to many of us for some time now,” said Kerry.

Kerry, the longtime senator from Massachusetts, was crucial in influencing Obama’s endorsement of India to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

When Manmohan Singh met Obama on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit late last year, the US president had assured that India was a big part of his plans in his second term. The appointment of Kerry, a robust backer of stronger India-US relations, and his visit to India later this year will hopefully dispel the impression in some sections in the strategic establishment that the India-US ties will cool off due to Obama’s preoccupation with his pivot to Asia.

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