Kolkata: Describing US President Barack Obama’s visit as “transformative”, that brought US-India relations to a new level, the American envoy to India Sunday said improving the economic ties was a key area.
Speaking on the occasion of a book launch here, US Ambassador Richard Rahul Verma said the US was endeavouring to become India’s “best partner”.
“This was a visit which pushed the relationship to a different level. The best line of the visit is that the president said India and US are natural partners, we know that. But, he said, we want to be India’s best partner,” said Verma.
“We articulated different vision for our relationship and talked about cooperation in East Asia, on maritime issue, humanitarian issue, combating terrorism. We issued something called the Delhi declaration of friendship – something we haven’t done with any other country,” he said.
About economic ties, Verma lamented the low volume of two-way trade.
“Economic and trade ties were major issues during the talks and it has been agreed to increase the two-way trade by at least five time the current volume.
“While the current trade volume is satisfactory, the percentage of export that go from US to India is two percent and vice versa its one percent, so we are barely reaching our potential,” he said.
Launching Swadesh Chatterjee’s “Building Bridges: The Role of Indian Americans in Indo-US Relations”, Verma said US and India have agreed to collaborate on jointly designing and producing defence equipment besides signing a 10 year deal for joint military exercises.
“We had quite breakthrough in defence, signing a 10-year deal to bring our militaries together, we will do more training, more exercises. We agreed to start building and designing things together. We have picked four projects that we going to work on jointly and also formed two working groups for military assistance,” he said.
About the civil nuclear pact for which Chatterjee played a key role in pushing the deal, Verma credited the heads of the two countries for finally clinching the deal that had been in the limbo for a decade.
“We had a breakthrough understanding in the civil nuclear deal which had got stuck in the liability issue since the day it was passed. But it took the leaders of the two countries to get the breakthrough. This is surely a great pathway forward not just for US or other companies but for India’s ability to generate non carbon-based electricity,” added Verma.
“The president during his departure told me that now, it was the time for the hard work to begin, and we are ready to begin that hard work,” he said.