WASHINGTON: The U.S. has said that talks between India and Pakistan are important and that it is upto both the nations to determine the scope, character and timing of the dialogue. These comments were made by the U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma on the eve of the India - U.S. Strategic Dialogue which begins in Washington today.
In an exclusive conversation with ANI, Ambassador Verma said the United States is looking at ways to "strengthen it's security cooperation with India especially when it comes to counter terrorism". The U.S. Envoy expressed hope that during the two day Strategic Dialogue the two countries will arrive at mechanisms to upgrade the level of security cooperation including regional security. In what is being viewed as a reference to Afghanistan ANI has learned that talks between India and U.S. will focus on the Afghan situation especially the deteriorating security environment and it's linkages to Pakistan. Other regional issues including Nepal's new constitution and it's impact on the Madhesis is likely to come up.
On the issue of economic reforms and the perception that India is not moving fast enough to implement those reforms Ambassador Verma said, "U.S. has a very good partnership with India and over the past 12 months very significant progress has been made ". It is in this backdrop that more issues will be discussed within the framework of a "very positive" relationship.
In this regard Ambassador Verma said, "it is to work out the outstanding issues that a forum like the Strategic Dialogue is important". Ambassador Verma pointed to the bilateral trade environment and commented that the "numbers are exceptionally positive". He mentioned that President Obama and Prime Minister Modi had set a bilateral trade figure of USD 500 Billion per annum and the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue will create conditions that would make that goal achievable. He made it clear that the U.S. is committed to working through all the issues with India as there is "a lot of enthusiasm about the relationship ".
Talking about Prime Minister Modi's visit to New York and to the West Coast the U.S. Envoy to India said "the U.S. is looking forward to a set of great meetings with PM Modi whose visit to New York and to the West Coast will be very positive".
Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to meet with President Obama on September 28th in New York.