Washington/New Delhi: US Secretary of State John Kerry will on Wednesday arrive in India on a visit expected to lay the groundwork for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-awaited September visit to Washington. With Kerry’s visit, the US will seek to establish top-level contact with the new Indian government. John Kerry, heading a high-powered delegation, has left Washington for India.
Ahead of visiting India, Kerry, in a major speech on Monday, stressed that the US and India have the potential to become indispensable partners for the 21st century and said Washington wants to support the Modi government’s vision of “sabka saath, sabka vikas (together with all, development for all)”.
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Modi on Tuesday held a meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley ahead of Kerry’s visit, where they are understood to have discussed the present status of relations between the two countries.
They also discussed issues expected to come up during the fifth annual India-US Strategic Dialogue which will be co-chaired by Kerry and Sushma Swaraj on July 31.
Kerry in his address at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a major US think-tank, said on Monday evening, that he would be “emphasising the opportunities” in which the US and India can become indispensable partners when he touches base with the new Indian government.
Mentioning Modi’s name 11 times in his address, he said: “The new Indian government’s plan, ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, together with all, development for all – that’s a concept, a vision that we want to support.
“We believe it’s a great vision, and our private sector is eager to be a catalyst in India’s economic revitalisation.”
Kerry will be accompanied by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on the visit. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is to visit next month as part of preparations for the meeting between Modi and President Barack Obama in Washington.
State Department Spokesperson Jennifer Psaki said in a statement that in addition to holding the Strategic Dialogue, Kerry will meet Prime Minister Modi, “the first Cabinet-level meeting with a US official since the inauguration of the new Indian government”.
She added that discussion will cover “the full range of bilateral issues, including expanding bilateral trade, tackling climate change, improving India’s energy security through cooperation in clean energy and energy access, and expanding our already robust people-to-people ties”.
The visit of the US’ top diplomat “underscores the importance of the US-India partnership, and will lay the groundwork for Prime Minister Modi’s September visit to the United States”.