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Trump's timely visit to India could open new period in bilateral ties: Verma

PTI | Washington DC | Updated: 16-02-2020 11:38 IST | Created: 16-02-2020 11:36 IST
Trump's timely visit to India could open new period in bilateral ties: Verma
Image Credit: ANI

Describing US President Donald Trump's upcoming visit to India as timely that could open a new period in bilateral ties, a former top American diplomat has said that it is important for the leaders of the two countries to embrace and reaffirm common values of commitment to democracy, human rights, diversity and rule of law. President Trump will pay a state visit to India on February 24 and 25 at the invitation of Prime Minister Modi. He would be accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump.

"Only six sitting US Presidents have visited India since India's independence in 1947, so President Trump's visit is important, timely and has the chance to open a new period in bilateral ties," former US envoy to India Rich Verma told PTI in an interview ahead of the presidential visit. "The visits of the last three US Presidents have celebrated not only our security and economic potential, but also focused on our deeply held shared values, our commitment to democracy, to human rights, to diversity, to the rule of law and to a more peaceful and open Indo-Pacific. This is the aspect of our partnership that makes it stand out and gives it special significance," said Verma, who served as the US Ambassador to India from 2015 to 2017.

Noting that there are threats to that vision, he said that it would be important for both the leaders to embrace and reaffirm those values. "I hope the President goes even further to reaffirm that America remains a land of immigrants, a welcoming nation committed to diversity and inclusion," he said. "That's the America that my parents came to from India nearly 60 years ago. It's the America that allowed their son to return as Ambassador, and the America that lifted up millions of newly arrived immigrants over our history wanting to pursue the American dream," said the first-ever Indian-American to be posted as US Ambassador to India.

Verma, 51, who is vice chairman of the Asia Group, said that President Trump can draw upon this bipartisan traditions to reaffirm these shared values and bring the two nations even closer together. "If he does, then the world will indeed be a safer and more prosperous place – one where two natural allies defend and advance freedom for hundreds of millions across the globe," Verma said.

He said that the previous presidential visits led to new areas of cooperation, demonstrated the appreciation and affection that the American people feel towards India, and reflected the true bipartisan support for a stronger partnership. President Obama was the only US President to visit India twice during his tenure in office, and the only President to attend India's Republic Day. His visits led to historic progress in defense, energy and trade. "I was proud to witness that progress first-hand," he said.

"We remember President (Bill) Clinton's historic visit in 2000, where in a memorable address before the Indian Parliament he called for a new chapter in US-India ties, one that finally lives up to our desire to be 'natural allies'," he noted. He said President George W Bush's visit cemented historic progress on civil nuclear cooperation and in sealing an important strategic defense arrangement with India.

"We cannot forget the words of President Eisenhower, the first US President to visit (India), where he predicted the Indian and American people, not the governments, would show us the way forward. It was a wise observation," Verma said.


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