United States Ambassador to India Richard Verma has described his recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh as important for exploring and increasing trade and economic opportunities, notwithstanding China's objections to him undertaking the trip there.
"We had a terrific visit to Arunachal Pradesh. We went there for the Tawang Festival. We are looking to increase our trade and economic opportunities there. It was an important visit," Verma told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh here on Tuesday.
Verma visited Tawang on October 22 on the invitation of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu. He was accompanied from Guwahati by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
Thank you Chief Minister Khandu for your warm hospitality in #Tawang. What a magical place. Stunning mountains & wonderful people. Terrific visit to #ArunachalPradesh for the #TawangFestival. Thank you Tawang for the hospitality(sic), tweeted Verma.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang in a statement on Sunday said the visit would complicate the dispute and "disturb" peace. "We have also noted that the place visited by senior US diplomatic official is a disputed region between China and India. We are firmly opposed to his visit."
Responding to questions on the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army across the Line of Control (LoC) last month, Ambassador Verma said, "I have talked about this a lot; we condemned the (terror) attack (on Uri) when that happened. And obviously, India took the move to defend itself. We also condemned very strongly the attacks that occurred in Pakistan."
Talking about U.S.-India ties, Verma said, "We had probably, as I said, the best two years in our U.S.-India relationship in many-many decades and appreciate the leadership that the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and the President (Barack Obama) provided and made all the progress in this relationship. After the election, I am confident we can continue to have this relationship."
"We are in a very-very strong place in the bilateral relationship, and that's only going to get stronger in years ahead," he added.
Divulging details of his Chhattisgarh visit, Verma said, "This is my first visit to the state and I wanted to come here for some time. We had a good meeting with the chief minister and his team. We met members of the state government, civil society, business officials and students, and talked about ways to develop our economic connections or educational connections or investment opportunities between our two countries.
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