WASHINGTON: "I believe there is no limit to our potential", this is how veteran Senator John McCain viewed US-India relations, especially in the defence sector, as he underscored the importance of setting the foundation correctly for the critical bilateral relations.
In an editorial he wrote for CNN ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington in 2016, had said that it was remarkable how much bipartisan support the US-India relationship enjoys on Capitol Hill, an upsurge of interest and respect that is normally reserved only for close partners and allies.
"In all my years in Congress, I recall only a select few countries that rose so quickly to such an exalted esteem," McCain, who died yesterday in his home in Arizona at the age of 81, wrote in the editorial two years ago.
McCain, an influential Republican lawmaker and the party's nominee for president in the 2008 election, however, noted that moving forward US-China relationship will require "hard choices and determined leadership".
"But if any two countries were up to this challenge, it would be two of the most stable democracies in the world -- two countries that have already overcome much historical baggage to arrive at this moment together," McCain, who has served as Chairman of the Senate Committees on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and most recently, Armed Services, wrote.
Commenting on Prime Minister Modi's visit to Washington in 2016, he wrote that his trip underscores just how important America's relationship with India has become -- and how critical it is that we set the foundation correctly for the years to come.
In the editorial, he pointed out that India was one of the fastest growing sources of foreign investment in the US, with Indian companies investing in American entrepreneurship, creating jobs and leading in corporate social responsibility.
"At the same time, as I have watched the partnership develop over the past several years, it is remarkable how much progress we have made on defence and security issues.
From joint exercises to joint technology development, and from defence sales to defence strategy, our security interactions and cooperation are increasingly becoming the backbone of our global strategic partnership," he wrote.
"A quarter-century ago, this would have been hard to imagine. As our two countries emerged from opposite sides of the Cold War, suspicion was high and distrust even higher," he recalled.
He noted that the two countries could not agree on trading mangos or Coke, let alone trading fighter jets and attack helicopters.
But in the intervening years, the world changed, and with it, so did our two countries.
Remarkably, both sides are now keenly working to make such activities a reality, he wrote.
Given our history, he wrote in 2016 that the current defence relationship is indeed a significant achievement.
"But what encourages me the most is not the road we have travelled, but rather the path that lies ahead," he wrote.
"Over the next 25 years, if we are able to overcome our mutual timidity and our respective historical hang-ups, I cannot imagine anything that could derail our defence relationship and prevent it from becoming ever closer," he wrote in the same year the US recognised India as a Major Defence Partner.
"When it comes to the defence relationship, I believe there is no limit to our potential, and I will be working hard to ensure these principles are carried into the next administration and the next Congress," he had vowed two years ago.
"I am confronted every day I see in India a country that can and should fight with us to maintain global security.
"In the coming years, I see an India that provides critical stability in a rapidly changing Indian Ocean region.
I see an India that maintains regional balance against expansionist adversaries in the Pacific.
And I see an India that is a stronger, more capable ally in the struggle against global terrorism and piracy," McCain wrote, during his stint as the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"And this is just the beginning. If we can come together as defence partners, our countries can be immensely positive forces for increased global peace and security," he wrote.
Getting there, however, will not be easy, he had cautioned.
"To achieve all this, the US will need to begin treating India the same as it does its close partners and allies," he wrote.
India must begin acting like a close partner and ally, he wrote.