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India-US ties to get stronger: Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said it was his “firm conviction’’ that India-US ties are only going to get stronger.

Shringla said a remarkable feature of the bilateral ties was the strong bi-partisan support in the US to strengthen its strategic partnership with India and work together on addressing global challenges.

“We believe that the US is a natural partner for India in our quest for building a resilient economy. We look forward to working with the new US Administration for further strengthening and consolidating this multifaceted relationship for our mutual benefit and economic prosperity,’’ Speaking at a virtual interaction with the US India Strategic Partnership Forum late on Thursday.

Shringla, as India’s former ambassador to the US, has personally witnessed the growing convergence between India and the US over recent years, especially in strategic and defence cooperation, energy, economic and people-to-people ties.

“The elevation of our bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership in February, during US President Donald Trump’s India visit this year illustrates this effectively,’’ he said.

Shringla pointed out that India and the US have collectively affirmed the importance of maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, with firm support for ASEAN centrality.

Shringla also provided insight into two recent and significant high-level interactions involving the US.

With Quad, the Indian objective is to advance the security and economic interests of all countries having a legitimate stake in the Indo-Pacific region. The Quad Ministerial in Tokyo last month emphasised the need to share best practices to combat Covid and enhance the resilience of global supply chains.

The third India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue took place last month against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, efforts to revitalise economies and regional and global developments of interest to both countries.

There was a substantive discussion on a coordinated Covid response and efforts towards economic recovery. Both sides strengthened their resolve in developing vaccines, therapeutics, ventilators and other essential medical equipment and to jointly promote access to a high quality, safe, effective and affordable vaccine.

India and the US also resolved to enhance supply chain resilience and seek alternatives to the current paradigm, which has come under severe strain during the pandemic and exposed critical vulnerabilities. Our two countries sought to support the global economic recovery and to emerge from the pandemic more resilient than ever. In this regard, they welcomed efforts to rejuvenate and expand bilateral India-US trade in the wake of the pandemic.

As India assumes membership of the UN Security Council in January next year, Shringla said reformed multilateralism shall be critical in addressing unprecedented challenges and delivering effective results.

Another global challenge is tackling climate change. India will go beyond its commitments in the fight against climate change despite huge developmental challenges and limited availability of energy.

India is aiming to achieve 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and further increase this to 450 GW by 2030. It is also committed to achieving 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel sources and restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.

In this respect, he referred to the PM’s initiative to launch multilateral partnerships such as the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

India, he said, is on track on the development and trial of COVID vaccines, and exploring the possibility of conducting phase III trials in a few countries.

Based on willingness, India could go for joint production of vaccines in some countries. It has already conducted online training sessions for nearly 90 participants from eight neighbouring countries to develop capacity in clinical trials and clinical practices. India will also help interested countries in enhancing their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines, he offered.

Shringla also mentioned the series of reforms to boost the investment climate in India and position the country as a low-cost manufacturing destination in the region.