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The notion that our countries aren't full partners, isn't true

India's IT sector, it's more than just a digital miracle - it's a source of national pride

Michael Pompeo 

Look, you just proved enormously your commitment to democracy last month in the largest democratic exercise in the world’s history. It was an example for the region. Imagine if every nation had the vigorous debates and voice that the Indian people just had the opportunity to express.

And yet in spite of all this, there’s a nagging misconception that our countries are not able to be full partners — the distrust of an earlier era, I think, still lingers.

But that’s not true. You’ve made hard choices to cut off oil imports from Iran, and move away from purchasing Venezuelan oil. We know these decisions weren’t without cost.

We’re doing everything we can to ensure you have adequate crude imports. We appreciate your help in pushing these regimes to behave like normal countries, and the Venezuelans to take care of their people.

You supported the global campaign of pressure and diplomacy with North Korea, to encourage Chairman Kim to go back to the bargaining table, and ultimately, to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

You’ve joined America, too, for regular meetings between our top defense and diplomatic leaders. Your navy recently joined ours, alongside those of Japan and the Philippines, for a group sail for the first time in the South China Sea. There, we were able to reinforce our partnership and the freedom of navigation throughout international waterways.

Recently, too, India voted against giving the United Nations observer status to a Palestinian NGO tied to terror group Hamas, because rewarding terror groups is just wrong. Both India and America know that.

You’ve contributed, too, $3 billion in fact, in assistance to Afghanistan, where we’ll keep working to achieve a better future for the Afghan people, and we will make sure the country never again becomes a hive for terrorist evil.

You’ve collaborated — you’ve collaborated with USAID, our aid institution inside the Department of State, on economic development that ranges from training farmers in Kenya, to helping women find employment in Afghanistan, to helping Nepal meet its energy needs.

India more and more is standing on the world stage, and we welcome your assertiveness, because it’s good for the world. It’s why we have for years supported your permanent seat on the UN Security Council. We’ve seen what’s possible when we work together for the common good all around the world. I think, too, it’s the moment to think in a different way, to think even bigger. It’s time for a more ambitious age.

Let’s start with counter-terrorism. Just a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Modi called for all nations to band together to fight terrorism, a message that aligns with what President Trump told the world leaders two years ago in Riyadh, on his first international visit. We were pleased to see the United Nations Sanctions Committee designate Masood Azhar last month. And from Kandahar to Sri Lanka and beyond, this fight will continue. Our work together must continue. Can we work even more closely to thwart terrorism that afflicts South Central Asia?

Then there’s our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region – a vision which we arrived at independently, but which today we pursue together. We both seek to uphold sovereignty, the rule of law, transparency, good government, and basic freedoms. And we look forward to working with you in the western Indian Ocean, alongside countries such as France. Later this year, for the first time ever, the US military will participate in a tri-service exercise with their Indian counterparts. We respect your sovereignty, and seek a true partnership. Can we have a more robust defense relationship grounded in interoperability, with common platforms, shared doctrines, and new technologies?

Today 60 per cent of global maritime trade transits through the Indo-Pacific. In past weeks, the Islamic Republic of Iran has attacked tankers from Japan, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. In recent years, China has sought dominance in the South China Sea. Can America and India strategise more comprehensively on how to safeguard free and open seaways all throughout the world?

And on the economic front, just as we want our governments to instinctively turn to one another as partners, so we seek the same thing for our companies. Can we – can we help each other’s private industries disengage from countries with a weak rule of law and invest in partner nations eager to house our supply chains and our innovators?

India’s IT sector, it’s more than just a digital miracle – it’s a source of pride. I know it; I can see it. Can we work together as partners, with partners such as Japan, to keep India’s networks – and the 5G networks of the future — safe and reliable? I’m confident that we can. Can we come to an agreement that allows data to flow freely among countries so we don’t balkanise the Internet, make our companies less competitive, and impede economic growth? I am certain there is a way.

Look, India has a chance to contribute robustly in the energy security region as well. We want that to happen. Can we work together to provide clean energy for all of the Indian people? And can we help wean your industries off reliance on partners that don’t share our common, strategic set of interests? One million Indian youth enter the job market every month. There are trillions of dollars in potential American investment sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be put to work in the Indo-Pacific region. What about reducing trade barriers between our two great nations? I’m very confident — I’m very confident — that a solution can be found, one that will honour President Trump’s call for fair and reciprocal trade and benefit the citizens of India and the United States alike.

Edited excerpts from a speech by US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on “America and India: Embracing an Age of Ambition”, June 26 in New Delhi

First Published: Sat, June 29 2019. 19:49 IST