US Secretary of State John Kerry is in India
for strategic and commercial talks as the two countries try to improve security and economic ties, in part to counter China’s growing influence.
Kerry, along with US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, is leading the American delegation to India for the second strategic dialogue between the two nations.
The US and India have set an ambitious goal of increasing annual trade to around $500 billion.
“I’m very, very confident that we will continue to strengthen what President Obama has called the defining partnership of the 21st century,” Kerry said in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Kerry will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday during the two-day visit.
The top US diplomat also expressed hope that a deal to provide nuclear energy assistance to India would move ahead.
“We also hope to see our civil nuclear cooperation take shape in the form of new reactors that will deliver reliable electricity to tens of millions of Indian households,” he said.
US giant Westinghouse is set to build six nuclear reactors in India as part of will build six nuclear reactors in India under a civil nuclear accord reached between the two nations in 2008.
The deal has been held up in the past over concerns over an Indian law that would make US companies liable for accidents at nuclear sites they helped construct.
India, which has historically relied heavily on Russia for arms imports, also seeks better access to US technology so it can modernize its aging military and build more sophisticated hardware.
“We want to take our expanding defense cooperation to the next stage of co-production and co-development,” Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said.
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (L) and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar attend a press conference at the Pentagon on August 29, 2016 in Washington. (AFP)
The talks came a day after the US and India signed a military agreement that would enable them to use each other’s military assets including land, air and naval bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.
Officials said the agreement is a step toward building up military relations to counter the rising maritime assertiveness of China.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar sealed the pact in Washington on Monday.