US-India relationship is an affair of the heart: Hillary

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Washington, DC: India and the United States concluded their Strategic Dialogue here on June 3 evening, issuing a joint statement that indicated a significant increase in the breadth of collaborative initiatives between the two countries.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna led the inaugural meeting of the US-India Strategic Dialogue, at which they committed to sustain and deepen their cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, trade and investment, science and technology, infrastructure investment, environmental sustainability, climate change, mitigation, energy security, education, agriculture, food security, healthcare and the empowerment of women.

To a question on whether the Strategic Dialogue represented more continuity or change, Hillary Clinton said it represented both. She argued that while there was “continuity that was evidenced by my husband’s efforts to reach out to India, evidenced by President Bush’s continuing efforts, and … the civilian nuclear deal, (we have) now come to a point where we wish to… broaden the base of that relationship”.

She added, “This is an affair of the heart, not just of the head,” noting that the relationship “between our peoples is rooted in common values, shared aspirations”, even if there were different historical experiences and cultural perspectives.

Both leaders concurred on the gravity of recent terror incidents in the US and India and called for swift and credible steps to eliminate terrorist safe havens. They vowed to strengthen global consensus and legal regimes against terrorism, including by working together at the United Nations toward adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

Noting that India was the country with which the US had the maximum number of joint defense exercises; both leaders also noted the scope for enhancement of defense trade between the two countries to the mutual benefit of both sides. They pledged to continue working together on maritime security, counter-piracy, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and response.

Hillary Clinton also welcomed India’s announcement of establishing a Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership with focus on advanced nuclear energy systems, nuclear security, radiological safety and applications of radio isotopes and radiation technologies and appreciated India’s intent to welcome participation by international partner countries and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the work of the Centre.

The leaders further committed to continue working together to achieve an early start of negotiations on a “multilateral, non-discriminatory and internationally and effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty” at the Conference on Disarmament.

On the unresolved question of restrictions by the US on high-tech, dual-use items of trade, the leaders “committed to approach the issue of export controls in the spirit of the strategic partnership between the two countries.”

With a strong focus on sustainable development, the joint statement underscored the goal of establishing a Joint Clean Energy Research Centre and accelerating collaborative efforts to deploy clean energy technologies in both countries.

Other areas of cooperation that saw agreements being put in place include agricultural cooperation and food security, university education partnerships, and establishing a Regional Global Disease Detection Centre in India.

In conclusion, the two sides noted they would hold the next meeting of the Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi in the first half of 2011.

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