India-US ties will improve if Prime Minister-elect Modi and his party can demonstrate their seriousness about engaging with America, said Anish Goel who served for three years in the White House's National Security Council as senior director for South Asia.
"The United States has already taken the first step by inviting Modi to visit Washington, which was absolutely the correct thing to do following the BJP's election victory," Goel told PTI.
In 2005, the US State Department had revoked a visa that Modi had for travelling to the US on the ground of alleged human rights violations after the 2002 Gujarat riots.
When asked if the then Bush Administration was wrong in imposing the ban, he said, that in hindsight, it is easy to blame the US for a decision taken almost 10 years ago, but this was a complicated issue with many factors involved.
"The important thing now is that the United States is ready to put the decision behind it and move forward. India should too," Goel said.
"Moving forward, the United States should build on this by reaching out to Modi's government (once fully formed) at all levels and re-establishing the strong engagement that it once had with the BJP," said Goel, now a senior fellow, international security programme at the New America Foundation.
He said that in addition, the US should focus on the positive aspects of the relationship, such as defence collaboration and counterterrorism, where the two sides can make good progress.
"At the same time, it's important to keep in mind that the United States does not bear sole responsibility for strengthening the relationship. There are many steps India can and should take to signal it is ready to move forward," Goel said in response to a question.
"The relationship will improve, especially if Modi and the BJP can demonstrate that they are serious about engaging and working with the United States," Goel said.
He acknowledged that over the past several years, disappointment has crept into the relationship on both sides and the key to re-invigorating it is to move forward with a strong agenda.
"The visa issue should not have an impact moving forward - the invitation by President Obama for Modi to visit Washington indicated clearly that the United States has moved past this issue. Modi and the BJP will as well," he said when asked if the visa issue would have an impact on the bilateral relationship with Modi as the Prime Minister.