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Deputy Secretary Burns: Is There a Future for the U.S.-India Partnership?

Thank you, Strobe, for that kind introduction. I’m delighted to be back at Brookings for this important conference. And I’m especially delighted to be here with India’s new Ambassador to the United States, Nirupama Rao, an extraordinary diplomat and a wonderful friend. As Foreign Secretary, Ambassador Rao helped shape every advance we made in U.S.-Indian relations in recent years, and both India and the United States are lucky to have her here.

It is also a genuine pleasure, and a genuine honor, to be introduced by Strobe Talbott, who set the standard both for Deputy Secretaries of State and for U.S.-Indian diplomacy over a decade ago. Strobe’s vision helped put U.S.-India relations on their current productive path, culminating in President Bill Clinton’s visit to India in 2000, the first trip to India by a sitting President in 22 years. Ten years later, it took President Obama only 22 months to become the first President to visit India in his first term.

During that visit, President Obama offered the clearest possible answer to the question posed by this conference — he made emphatically clear that the U.S.-India partnership has a future, a very bright and consequential future. During that visit, the President told India’s parliament, “the United States not only supports India as a rising power; we fervently support it, and we have worked to help make it a reality.” Just as a strong India is in America’s interest, a strong America is in India’s interest, and a strong U.S-India partnership benefits not only our two countries, but the entire world.

And yet, a strong U.S.-India partnership is neither automatic nor self-implementing. We each carry baggage of different kinds, and we each have our own world views, our own domestic preoccupations, and our own sense of our interests. Problems and disagreements will inevitably arise. But no one should mistake the inevitable differences between two close, opinionated friends for loss of momentum — or worse, the lack of a future. Our track record is clear and our commitment is firm. President Obama’s resoundingly successful visit last year made history with our endorsement of a permanent Indian seat on a reformed UN Security Council and our clear expression of support for India’s future membership in the major non-proliferation regimes. These are momentous steps.

So there is, it seems obvious to me, a bright future for the U.S.-India strategic partnership. That future will bear no resemblance to the distant past of mutual estrangement, but it is also unlikely to always resemble the recent past — when it seemed every 18 months brought new breakthroughs like the civil-nuclear deal, or support for permanent UNSC membership, or export controls reform. Our challenge today is to broaden and deepen our bilateral, regional, and global cooperation. Given India’s emergence as a global power and the breadth of our common challenges, no single issue and no single breakthrough can or should define our partnership. What matters is its overall health, its steady progress, and the long-term investment required to sustain both.

Let me talk briefly about three especially important dimensions of our growing partnership: boosting our mutual prosperity; deepening cooperation in India’s immediate neighborhood and east across Asia and the Pacific; and efforts to solve global problems together.

I. Meeting the Economic Needs of Our People

Our bilateral economic relationship is anchored in the realization that our long-term interests are essentially congruent and mutually reinforcing. Each of us has a large stake in the others’ success. The tangible economic benefits of our relations — for businesses big and small, for people in the middle class and those rising towards it, are irrefutable. The old narrative of outsourcing and zero-sum competition has given way to the reality of balanced, mutually-beneficial, and rapidly growing commerce between our nations. From USAID programs to eradicate polio and promote maternal and child health to cutting-edge cooperation in clean energy technology, agriculture, science and space, we are committed to being a partner in helping build a new India.

The modernization of India and the lifting up of hundreds of millions of Indians out of poverty necessarily remains the focus of the Indian government. This extraordinary — and so far extraordinarily successful — effort requires India to sustain its high rate of economic growth, open markets for its goods and services, and attract the investment needed to realize its vision of inclusive development. There is no more important partner for India in this endeavor than the United States. Over the past decade, our bilateral trade has doubled and then almost doubled again. Our total direct investment in India rose tenfold, from $2.4 billion in 2000 to $27.1 billion in 2010.

The economic needs of the American people are central to our own diplomacy around the world, as we work to find new markets for American products and exports. The United States therefore has an enormous stake in India’s economic rise. India has grown on average seven-and-a-half percent each year for the past decade, and American companies want to compete in India’s growing markets and take advantage of investment opportunities — not least the $1 trillion India expects to invest in building infrastructure by 2017. India is now the Export-Import Bank’s second largest portfolio, after Mexico.

Together, we are drawing the best from both of our societies to make better products that compete and win in the global economy. Tata Steel has a plant in Ohio; Boeing uses engineers in Bangalore to design 787s whose parts are manufactured across America. India’s direct investment in the United States has grown by an average of 33 percent each year since 2005 and, in the decade between 2000 and 2010, increased from a negligible $96 million to over $3.3 billion, with Indian companies now employing tens of thousands of Americans.

Completing our civil nuclear partnership is central to both our nations’ long-term prosperity and India’s future energy security. For international and Indian firms to participate in India’s civil nuclear sector, India needs a nuclear liability regime consistent with international standards. To this end, we welcome India’s commitment to ratify the Convention on Supplemental Compensation later this year, and we encourage India to engage with the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that India’s liability regime fully conforms with the international requirements under the Convention.

The next step in the pursuit of mutual prosperity is a U.S.-India bilateral investment treaty, which would enhance transparency, boost innovation, and create jobs. Technical negotiations are about to get underway, and we must continue to make progress. Just as the United States will be integral to India’s sustained economic growth and its efforts to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty, India’s emergence will be integral to long-term U.S. economic prosperity.

II. India’s Rise as an Asian Power

We are counting on India’s rise not just as an economic partner but as a global power — one that engages everywhere from Latin America to the Middle East to East Asia. India’s leadership in promoting a more stable South Asia — its multibillion dollar assistance commitment to Afghanistan, its determination to re-engage and normalize trade with Pakistan, and its joint projects to boost infrastructure and capacity in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives — offer the hope of a more peaceful future for the region and the world. Ambassador Rao’s personal efforts as Foreign Secretary to revive dialogue between India and Pakistan and consider mutually-beneficial steps in trade and other areas are particularly commendable.

For U.S. and Indian policymakers, a successful transition in Afghanistan is a shared imperative and an area of increasing cooperation. As the United States draws down our forces and transfers responsibility for security to the Afghan people, we are ever mindful of Afghanistan’s recent history and the terrible cost of neglect. None of us can afford to make that mistake again. We are making headway in negotiating a new Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Afghans to extend beyond 2014. As Secretary Clinton emphatically noted in Chennai with regard to our long-term commitment to Afghanistan’s stability, “we will be there.”

Success in Afghanistan depends on ensuring that others are there, too. That certainly includes India. With coalition forces drawing down, Afghanistan will need extensive private investment and economic linkages with its neighbors. And yet today, the countries of South and Central Asia trade less with each other than nearly any region in the world. Goods are shipped thousands of miles out of the way simply to avoid hostile territory.

Even with no direct access to India’s rising middle class market, Afghanistan already sends one-quarter of its exports to India. Imagine what will be possible when transit and trade agreements extend outward to India and Central Asia, and Afghan traders are able to shift goods directly to the markets of Mysore and Mumbai, and Indian innovation and capital can play the same role lifting Afghan prosperity that it has at home. The “New Silk Road,” as we envision it, is not a single path — it is a vision of economic, transit, infrastructure and human links between South and Central Asia. India can be its economic engine.

Just as the United States and India have a mutual stake in supporting a stable and more integrated South Asia, we must also work together as the strategic center of gravity for world affairs shifts toward the Asia-Pacific region, where India has a vital role to play. It is precisely for this reason that the U.S. and India decided to launch a strategic dialogue on the Asia-Pacific in 2010. Since then, this mechanism has emerged as a model for the type of engagement and dialogue that we need to identify new areas of cooperation and to pursue complementary strategies.

We are keenly aware that “talk is talk,” and that action is key. That is why we are transforming our engagement with India on the Asia-Pacific from dialogue to real action and concrete outcomes in areas such as maritime and port security, counter-piracy, disaster preparedness and humanitarian relief.

India is already a powerful economic and cultural presence in the East — from the temples of Bali to the dynamic expatriate communities who connect India with the export-driven economies of Southeast Asia. India has built a vast network of bilateral economic cooperation agreements and security arrangements in the Asia-Pacific with traditional American allies like Japan, South Korea, and Australia, and with our other partners, like Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. We are launching a new U.S.-India-Japan trilateral consultation on regional issues. India’s outreach is growing, moving toward a comprehensive vision for the East Asia region — a “Look East” policy that is becoming an “Act East” policy.

We also hope that India will join us in working to strengthen Asia’s many regional institutions. Prime Minister Singh’s appearance alongside President Obama at the East Asia Summit in November will help that grouping become the premier forum for our leaders to discuss political and security issues in Asia. Secretary Clinton has underscored our commitment to work closely with India as we deepen our engagement with ASEAN. As Ambassador Rao once commented to me, Southeast Asia begins in Northeast India. India already trades nearly as much in goods with the ASEAN region as it does with the United States. An architecture of free trade and investment that connects India to all of Southeast and East Asia will have a profound impact on global trade and economic growth.

Finally, the 21st century Asia-Pacific we seek is one in which India, the United States and China all enjoy good relations. Whatever our differences, we know that, as this century advances, fewer and fewer global problems will be solvable without constructive cooperation amongst our three great countries. To paraphrase India’s National Security Advisor, I have no doubt that Asia and the world are big enough for the three of us — if we want them to be. We will all benefit from enhanced collaboration in the years ahead.

III. India and Global Challenges

Across the world, I believe that India and America — two leaderships and two peoples with so many converging interests, shared values and common concerns — can help shape a more secure, stable, democratic and just global system. India can make a decisive contribution to building what Secretary Clinton has called “the global architecture of cooperation” to solve problems that no one country can solve on its own.

That’s why President Obama said that the United States looks forward, in the years ahead, to a reformed United Nations Security Council, with India as a permanent member. It is why we are working together through the G-20 to rebalance the global economy in what has become the world’s leading forum for international economic cooperation. It is why we have worked together in Copenhagen and Cancun and will work together in Durban to combat changes to our climate that threaten the Himalayan plateaus and the American heartland alike. It is why we are helping India spread its agricultural expertise to other developing nations. It is why we have dramatically deepened our cooperation on counter-terrorism and homeland security. And it is why President Obama and Prime Minister Singh have each committed their country to the long-term vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Across the board, we hope India recognizes that with increased power comes increased responsibility — including the recognition, in the spirit of Gandhi, that an assault on human rights and freedom in one place is an assault on human rights and freedom everywhere. Recent weeks have seen encouraging signs from Burma, including a new embrace of the language of reform. Then-Foreign Secretary Rao’s meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi earlier this year was an important step, and we hope that the Indian government will use its close ties in Burma to encourage concrete action on political and economic reform and national reconciliation.

We also hope we can look together at the profound changes sweeping across the Middle East, and see our common stake in successful transitions in a part of the world that matters enormously to both of us. The singular feature of the revolutions that make up the new Arab Awakening is that they are driven from within, animated by a thirst for dignity and participation in societies which for far too long have produced far too little of either. That is also the great enduring strength of those revolutions, and it is the ultimate repudiation of the al-Qaida narrative that change can only come through violent extremism.

While all of us should be careful not to obscure the home-grown strength of the Arab Spring, none of us can afford to neglect its historic sweep or fail to address the brutalities of regimes bent on denying their citizens their dignity and their universal rights. The simple truth is that there is no going back to the way things were. There is only a path forward — a hard and difficult path, filled with troubles and backsliding and detours — but a path forward nonetheless.

India has a great deal to offer people and societies starting down that path. We applaud India’s offer to send election experts to Egypt, and hope India can expand its support for the new Libya, and stand with the Syrian people as they peacefully demand their universal rights. While no country should seek to impose its own political system on others, India remains a stirring example of a successful, multi-party democracy that offers hope to societies wracked by political turmoil and sectarian or tribal divides. We hope India will recognize the value of helping others match that achievement.

If we want a truly global strategic partnership, America and India must seek out opportunities to act as partners at the UN and other international fora. The collective action we have endorsed together through the G-20, the Nuclear Security Summit and the Global Counterterrorism Forum we launched last week in New York are excellent examples of our capacity to work constructively together to solve the problems no one nation can solve alone. The United States and India have no fundamental conflicts of interest, so there is no reason why we should not strive to be closer partners in the UN system and beyond. That will take time, and we will have our share of frictions along the way, but it is in both our interests to try.


For our part, accepting India as a global power means learning to agree to disagree sometimes. It means recognizing that profound mutual interests and shared values do not add up to unanimity of opinion. And, with cooperation moving forward on so many issues, a few differences need not cause us to lose momentum or ask whether there is a future for our partnership.

The greatest risk is not disagreement — it is inattention. It is the possibility, through domestic political distractions or failure of imagination or simple complacency, that America and India might leave the full potential of our partnership unmet.

The truth is that we have crossed a threshold in our relations where — for both of us, for the first time — our success at home and abroad depends on our cooperation. America’s vision of a secure, stable, prosperous 21st century world has at its heart a strong partnership with a rising India. The question is not whether we have a future, or whether we will have a strategic partnership. The question is whether we are doing as much as we can to ensure that we realize its full promise. Few questions will matter more — for both of us — in the new century unfolding before us.


Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the Opening Session of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

As Prepared for Delivery

Minister Krishna, members of the Indian Government, friends and colleagues:

It is a pleasure to be back in India.

I have been looking forward to this visit—not only for the chance to spend time in India, a nation for which I have a great deal of personal affection—but also to continue the important work we are doing together in this Strategic Dialogue.

Before I go further, however, I want to express our sympathy and outrage over the terrorist attack in Mumbai last week. The United States condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms. We send our deepest condolences to the families of the victims. And we pledge our support the Indian government however we can in protecting its cities and citizens from future harm. We are allies in the fight against violent extremist networks. And homeland security is a high priority and a source of increasing partnership.

That’s why we signed the Counterterrorism Cooperative Initiative to increase our cooperation on the investigation of crimes, law enforcement, border management and cyber security. And in May, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano came to New Delhi to launch with you the first-ever U.S.-India Homeland Security Dialogue, to bring order and urgency to our shared efforts. The events in Mumbai have driven home how important it is that we get results.

And that’s true across every aspect of our engagement. The United States joined India in this Strategic Dialogue because we believe—as President Obama has said—that the relationship between India and the United States will be a defining partnership in the 21st century. The stakes are high. So it is critical that this dialogue lead to concrete and coordinated steps that each of our governments take to produce real results that make a difference in our people’s lives. Because that’s ultimately what this is all about—joining forces to protect our citizens and help every man, woman, and child live up to their God-given potential.

Today, we will review what we have achieved together across a range of issues. On some, like education, energy, and science and technology, we have recently begun new projects or are about to do so. On others—in particular, trade and investment, security cooperation, and our civil nuclear agreement—we have made progress and, if we redouble our efforts, we are poised to go even further.

Let me briefly discuss these three issues.

With regard to trade and investment, the ties between our countries are strong and growing stronger. The United States is proud to be one of India’s largest trading partners and direct investors, and we welcome India’s investment in the United States, which is rapidly on the rise. This is a good news story—but we would be remiss if we didn’t strive to make it even better. Each of our countries can do more to reduce barriers, open our markets, and find new opportunities for economic partnership. Taking these steps is in our mutual interest. We can improve millions of lives and increase both of our nations’ economic competitiveness.

On the matter of security cooperation: again, we have made progress. But we can do more to strengthen the security of our nations and this region as a whole. I’ve already mentioned our cooperation on counterterrorism. Maritime security is also a major concern, as we seek to protect sea lanes, combat piracy, and defend freedom of navigation. We applaud India’s leadership on fighting piracy in the Indian Ocean, including your decision last week to chair the 2012 plenary of the piracy contact group. And on another issue—defense technologies—the United States expects to continue developing and selling the world’s most competitive products. We view these sales as important on their own terms, but also as a means to facilitate the work that the Indian and American militaries can do together—whether patrolling the seas or providing relief to the victims of natural disasters.

And third, our civil nuclear agreement has been a joint investment by our countries, not just in the field of nuclear energy but also in our relationship. But to reap the benefits of that investment and to see returns on the political capital that has been spent on both sides, we need to resolve remaining issues so we can reap the rewards of a robust civil nuclear energy partnership. I look forward to the day when the computers of a school in Gujarat are powered by a reactor designed in America.

I have singled out these three issues—trade and investment; security cooperation; and the completion of our civil nuclear agreement—because each is so consequential for our prosperity and security. And on each, our countries have already come so far. But on both sides, we need to do more to translate momentum from this Dialogue into consistent and effective cooperation at every level of our governments, every day of the year.

Let us not forget the broader regional and global context. There was a time when India’s role as a leading nation was discussed as something that would happen at some point in the distant future. But that is no longer the case. India is a global leader. And the United States wholeheartedly supports this development and sees great benefits in our growing partnership. That’s why we support initiatives like the trilateral forum we are establishing with India and Japan; why we’ve stood in favor of a stronger role for India in forums like the G-20; and why we look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.

I’ll speak at greater length about our view on India’s role in the region and world tomorrow in Chennai. My point today is this: India’s rise is directly connected to what we are working to achieve through this Dialogue. The cooperation we are forging here should build habits of cooperation and bonds of trust as we strive to make both of our countries stronger, more prosperous, and better equipped to address the challenges we face.

So let’s make the most of our time together in New Delhi to review our progress to date, recognize the gains we have made—and then become even more determined to turn the aspirations of this Dialogue into real results for our people and our nations.

Thank you.


Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on India and the United States: A Vision for the 21st Century

Well, good afternoon and Vanakkam. I am delighted to be here today. (Applause.) I want to thank Chief Librarian Naresh for welcoming me to this absolutely extraordinarily impressive facility, and for telling us all to the largest public library in India. And I am delighted to finally be here in Chennai. I’ve been coming to India since the 1990s as my country’s first lady, as a senator from New York, and as a Secretary of State in the Obama Administration. But this is the first opportunity to come to this extraordinary coastal city here in the South, and one that means so much to so many in my own country and elsewhere, and to be in Tamil Nadu, who is a state that is one of the most industrialized, globalized, and educated in all of India. So it is – (applause) – it is somehow not surprising that this state would boast this very large library for the use of its citizens. And I know that the librarian has spent some time in my country, and we so pleased to have that among many of the links between us and you.

President Obama made a state visit to India last year. I have been here twice in the last two years. And why, one might ask? Why are we coming to India so often and welcoming Indian officials to Washington as well? It’s because we understand that much of the history of the 21st century will be written in Asia, and that much of the future of Asia will be shaped by decisions not only of the Indian Government in New Delhi, but of governments across India, and perhaps, most importantly, by the 1.3 billion people who live in this country.

And we have a great commitment to our government-to-government relations, but we have an even greater commitment to our people-to-people ones. And we view them as absolutely central to the partnership and friendship between our countries. As President Obama told the Indian parliament last year, the relationship between India and the United States will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. How will we define it? How will we work together to inject content into it? What will we do to build trust and confidence and do more that will bring us together?

Well, speaking for the United States, I can tell you that we are, in fact, betting on India’s future. We are betting that the opening of India’s markets to the world will produce a more prosperous India and a more prosperous South Asia. It will also spill over into Central Asia and beyond into the Asia Pacific region. We are betting that advances in science and technology of all kinds will both enrich Indian lives and advance human knowledge everywhere. And we are betting that India’s vibrant, pluralistic democracy will produce measurable results and improvements for your citizens and will inspire others to follow a similar path of openness and tolerance.

Now, we are making this bet not out of some blind faith, but because we have watched the progress of India with great admiration. You have maintained that democratic foundation while focusing on improving lives, particularly on the poorest among you in a way that the United States both recognizes and admires. Yet I know very well it will take time to realize this potential. And I also know, because I hear it from friends and colleagues and I see it from time to time in the Indian press, which is so exciting to read – I never know what I’m going to find when I turn the page of one of your newspapers, and I’m always both delighted and surprised.

But I find that there are those who raise questions about the direction of the relationship between us, and I understand that. It is true that we are different countries with different histories and backgrounds. And we will, from time to time, disagree as any two nations or, frankly, any two friends inevitably will do. But we believe that our differences are far outweighed by our deep and abiding bonds. Our nations are built on the same bedrock beliefs about democracy, pluralism, opportunity, and innovation. We share common interests like stopping terrorism and spurring balanced and broad-based economic growth that goes deeply into our societies.

And that is why our two governments have established a Strategic Dialogue which we announced when I first came as Secretary of State back in 2009 and when Prime Minister Singh visited later that year, and which, of course, we now have held two important sessions of, one in Washington and then this week in New Delhi. I met with a broad array of Indian officials, and I am very pleased to report to you that our work together is producing real results. We have already established a new clean energy research and development center that will be putting out the requests for proposals so we know what it is we can work on together to advance our common goal of clean energy and combat climate change.

We have worked together for the important task of preventing cyber attacks on our respective infrastructures. We are talking about a new bilateral investment treaty that will build on the 20 percent increase in trade we’ve seen just this last year. And we have watched as trade is increasingly flowing in both directions. We have new initiatives linking students and businesses and communities, and one of my personal favorites is the Passport to India, a program designed to bring more American students to study in India to match the great numbers of Indian students that come to America to study, because we want to create those bonds between our young people and our future leaders. We also consulted on the work we will be doing in the months ahead, strengthening our joint fight against terrorism, boosting our economic ties, completing our civilian-nuclear partnership, and deepening our defense cooperation. We think this work is very much in the interests of both of our countries and both of our peoples.

But I came to Chennai today to discuss in more depth, publicly, two issues that we discussed in our official meetings in New Delhi. And it really – they both are about India’s growing leadership role in the world, because today, India is taking its rightful place in the meeting rooms and conference halls where the world’s most consequential questions are debated and decided. And President Obama recognized this when he said that the United States looks forward to a reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India as a permanent member. (Applause.)

So what does – for India and for the United States and for the world, what does this global leadership mean in practical terms? And what does it mean for the relationship between the two of us? Well, for starters, it means that we can work more productively together on today’s most complex global challenges. For example, to advance democratic values, the world’s oldest democracy and its largest can both support the democratic transitions taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.

India’s election commission, widely viewed as the global gold standard for running elections – (applause) – is already sharing best practices with counterparts in other countries, including Egypt and Iraq. To help rebalance the global economy after the recession of 2008 and to spur growth, India and the United States are working together through the G-20 which has become the premier forum for international economic cooperation. To promote clean energy and to seek climate change solutions, this partnership that we have launched will accelerate research and deployment of effective technology, but it will also enable us to work together to make the UN Conference on Climate Change coming up in Durban a success.

India was a very constructive partner to the United States and others at both the conferences in Copenhagen and Cancun, where we’re not making enough progress, but we could put some milestones of progress and ongoing processes together to continue our efforts. To curb nuclear proliferation, we are working together with the international community to address shared concerns about provocative actions by countries like Iran. We have called for Iran to meet its international obligations at the IAEA. India has taken steps to ensure that products from your high-tech industry cannot be diverted to that nuclear weapons program. And we work with India, who is currently a nonpermanent member of the Security Council, to persuade Iran’s leaders to change course. And to promote sustainable development, the United States is encouraging India to share broadly its expertise in dry field, drought-tolerant agriculture, and to apply other lessons about how to lift millions of people out of extreme poverty.

So in these and many other areas, from democracy to economics, climate change, nonproliferation, development, our interests align and our values converge. A great deal has already been written about our efforts to collaborate on these cross-cutting global challenges, but today, I want to focus on two aspects of our cooperation, where the choices we make in the immediate term will have profound impacts on our security and prosperity in the years ahead. First, our work together in the Asia Pacific, and second, our shared interests in South and Central Asia, because this is a moment when these regional concerns have profound global resonance. And as I discussed them in depth with officials in Delhi yesterday, I’d like to explore them further with you today.

And let me start with the Asia Pacific. There is no better place to discuss India’s leadership in the region to its east than here in Chennai. In this port city, looking out at the Bay of Bengal and beyond to the nations of East and Southeast Asia, we are easily reminded of India’s historic role in the wider region. For thousands of years, Indian traders have sailed those waters of Southeast Asia and beyond. Indian culture has left its mark. The temples of Angkor Wat bear the influence of Tamil architecture. The Hindu god Ganesh still stands guard against homes in Indonesia. And today, the stretch of sea from the Indian Ocean through to the Pacific contain the world’s most vibrant trade and energy routes linking economies and driving growth.

The United States has always been a Pacific power because of our very great blessing of geography. And India straddling the waters from the Indian to the Pacific Ocean is, with us, a steward of these waterways. We are both deeply invested in shaping the future of the region that they connect. And there are big questions for us to consider. Will this region adopt basic rules of the road or rules of the sea to mobilize strategic and economic cooperation and manage disagreements? Will it build the regional architecture of institutions and arrangements to enforce international norms on security, trade, rule of law, human rights, and accountable governance? Through its Look East policy, India is poised to help lead toward the answers to these questions.

The United States believes that is a very good thing because we believe our vision for the future is very much similar. We both wish to expand economic ties. The United States is pushing forward on comprehensive trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and our free trade agreement with South Korea. We are also stepping up our commercial diplomacy and pursuing a robust economic agenda at APEC. India, for its part, has concluded or will soon conclude new bilateral economic partnerships with Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, and others. The more our countries trade and invest with each other and with other partners, the more central the Asia Pacific region becomes to global commerce and prosperity, and the more interest we both have in maintaining stability and security. As the stakes grow higher, we should use our shared commitment to make sure that we have maritime security and freedom of navigation. We need to combat piracy together. We have immediate tasks that we must get about determining.

These shared interests give India and the United States is a very strong incentive to make sure that the regional architecture for the Asia Pacific is up to answering the questions and delivering results. President Obama looks forward to joining Prime Minister Singh at the East Asia Summit later in the year this fall in Indonesia. We want to work with India and all of our friends and allies to build the East Asia Summit into the Asia Pacific’s premier forum for dealing with political and security issues. We want to use it to help set our priorities and lay out a vision for other regional institutions. At this year’s upcoming summit, the United States intends to collaborate with India and others to help advance an East Asia Summit agenda that draws on our two countries’ unique capacities. And high on this list should be maritime security, including developing multilateral mechanisms of cooperation. The East Asia Summit should also focus on disaster readiness, response, and relief, and nonproliferation, including working toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

Now, later this week, Foreign Minister Krishna and I will attend the ASEAN Regional Forum, and we will there be working in conjunction with ASEAN partners and others, and we will soon inaugurate a trilateral U.S.-India-Japan dialogue. America’s treaty alliances with Japan has long been a cornerstone of security in East Asia, and as a fellow democracy with us and India, we believe enhanced cooperation will be beneficial. We are also committed to a strong, constructive relationship among India, the United States, and China. Now, we know this will not always be easy. There are important matters on which we all disagree, one with the other. But we do have significant areas of common interest. We could begin by focusing on violent extremism, which threatens people on all – in all of our countries. Ultimately, if we want to address, manage, or solve some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century, India, China, and the United States will have to coordinate our efforts.

As India takes on a larger role throughout the Asia Pacific, it does have increasing responsibilities, including the duty to speak out against violations of universal human rights. For example, we recognize that India has important strategic interests in maintaining a peaceful border and strong economic ties with Burma. But the Burmese Government’s treatment of its own people continues to be deplorable. So it was a signal moment when Foreign Secretary Rao met with Aung San Suu Kyi last month. And I hope New Delhi will continue to encourage the Burmese Government to engage in dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and also to release other political prisoners.

In all of these areas, India’s leadership will help to shape positively the future of the Asia Pacific. That’s why the United States supports India’s Look East policy, and we encourage India not just to look east, but to engage East and act East as well, because after all, India, like the United States, where we look to the Atlantic and to the Pacific, India also looks both east and west. And its leadership in South and Central Asia is critically important. For example, India’s diverse democratic system in which people of all faiths and backgrounds participate equally can serve as a model for Sri Lanka as it pursues political reconciliation. Here in Chennai, we can see how much a society can achieve when all citizens fully are participating in the political and economic life of their country. Every citizen of Sri Lanka deserves the same hope and opportunity for a better future. (Applause.)

India also has a great commitment to improving relations with Bangladesh, and that is important because regional solutions will be necessary on energy shortages, water-sharing, and the fight against terrorists. And in Nepal, as the latest deadline for concluding the peace process and promulgating a new constitution approaches, Indian support for that process is critical. And in the Maldives, India is providing important economic assistance and partnerships to improve ports and other infrastructure. Looking north, in Central Asian states like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, India has forged new partnerships on energy, agriculture, cyber security, and other areas, because India and the United States share an interest in helping the people of this entire region build strong democratic societies and market economies, and to resolve long-festering conflicts. And of course, the conflict in Afghanistan continues to be a major challenge for us both.

I want to be very clear. The United States is committed to Afghanistan and to the region. We will be there. Yes, we are beginning to withdraw combat troops and transfer responsibility for security to the Afghan people, a process that will be completed in 2014, but drawing down our troops is not the same as leaving or disengaging. We and the Afghans are making progress on a new strategic partnership declaration that will define our relationship after 2014. And through that partnership, we will continue to assist the Afghan army and police and the Afghan Government. And we will do everything we can to help the Afghan people rebuild after decades of war.

At the same time, we are pursuing an active diplomatic effort with all the countries in the region toward two goals: First, a responsible political solution in Afghanistan, and second, stronger economic ties through South and Central Asia so that goods, capital, and people can flow more easily across borders. Representatives from Afghanistan and all their neighbors will have the chance to discuss this vision at a summit hosted by Turkey this November, and they will discuss it again with the rest of the international community at the Bonn conference in December.

How do we get from where we are to where we and especially the Afghan people need to end up? In February, I gave a speech at the Asia Society in New York explaining our support for Afghan-led efforts to reach a political solution to end the insurgency and to chart a more secure, prosperous, and peaceful future. As we have said many times, there are unambiguous redlines for reconciliation with insurgents. India has pioneered some of this work over years of effort in bringing people into the political system and taking them out of the forest or out of insurgencies.

Number one, people must renounce violence. Number two, the Taliban must abandon their alliance with al-Qaida. And number three, anyone wishing to reconcile must agree to abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan. Now, these are necessary outcomes of any negotiation. And let me say a special word about the last point. Any potential for peace will be subverted if women and ethnic minorities are marginalized or silenced. What we have learned in the 20th century that we must apply in the 21st century is that you cannot deny women and minorities, whether they be religious minorities or ethnic minorities or tribal or any other minority – you cannot deny your own people the chance to be full citizens in their own country.

And so when we look at what will happen in Afghanistan, the United States will not abandon our values or support a political process that undoes the progress that has been made in the past decade. Reconciliation, achieving it, and maintaining it, will depend on the participation of all of Afghanistan’s neighbors, including both Pakistan and India. We all need to be working together. Whether we live in Kabul or Islamabad, New Delhi, or Washington, we have to be committed to a common vision of a stable, independent, Afghanistan rid of the insurgency and a region free from al-Qaida.

In Kabul earlier this year, Prime Minister Singh reaffirmed India’s commitment to the Afghan-led reconciliation. And the Indian Government reinforced that commitment last month by supporting a United Nations Security Council resolution that cleared the way for lifting sanctions on insurgents who do reconcile. At the same time, India has rightly expressed concerns about outside interference in the reconciliation process, and we agree with those concerns and are consulting closely with India about that.

We will continue to encourage New Delhi’s constructive role. For example, in advocating based on India’s own experience that reconciliation, beginning at the very start of the process, must include representatives from a range of political parties and ethnic groups. We also believe Pakistan has an essential role and legitimate interest in this process, and those interests must be respected and addressed. We welcomed Pakistan’s decision to participate in a joint peace commission with Afghanistan and in what we call the core group of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States to manage the withdrawal. Achieving lasting peace and security in the region will require a stable, democratic, prosperous Pakistan free from violent extremism. That’s in everyone’s interest, because Americans, Indians, Pakistanis, and Afghans have all suffered at the hands of violent extremists, and none of us should tolerate a safe haven for terrorists anywhere.

So we look to the Pakistani Government to press insurgents to join the reconciliation process, to prevent Pakistani territory from being used for attacks that destabilize Afghanistan or India and to deny al-Qaida the space to regroup and plan new violence. And beyond India and Pakistan, all of Afghanistan’s other neighbors – Russia, Iran, China, the Central Asian states should recommit themselves to the goal of a stable and independent Afghanistan. That means they too must support reconciliation and respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. That is a pledge that all the countries of the region made nearly a decade ago when they signed the Declaration on Good Neighbourly Relations. The time has come to operationalize that agreement and to create mechanisms that ensure nations will live up to their commitments, and the United States will invest the considerable diplomatic effort needed to help build such support for those outcomes.

This diplomatic and political effort is the first element of our approach, but it will only succeed if it is paired with a strategy to increase economic ties that connect all the countries of the region. Because while many countries, including India, have given generous assistance to Afghanistan, no country, including my own, can afford to provide aid forever. We have to get an economy going. We have to have trade and investment coming. And the Afghan people themselves do not want receive aid forever. An Afghanistan firmly embedded in the economic life of a thriving South and Central Asia would be able to attract new sources of foreign investment and connect to markets abroad, including hundreds of millions of potential new customers in India. And increasing trade across the region would open up new sources of raw material, energy, and agricultural products, creating more jobs in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

But we have a long way to go before we could ever realize that in today’s world, because today, an Indian entrepreneur in Chennai who wishes to ship her products to a customer in Kazakhstan has to send them either through China or Iran, thousands of miles out of the way. An Indian business must import cement from Southeast Asia instead of from the flourishing cement industry next door in Pakistan. A traveler going between India and Pakistan not only has a difficult time getting a visa; he also often has to be routed through airports a thousand miles away just to get across the border. Now, we have no illusion about how difficult it will be to overcome the longstanding distrust that holds back economic cooperation, but we also are absolutely convinced this is very much in India’s interest, Pakistan’s interest, Afghanistan’s, and other nations as well.

Historically, the nations of South and Central Asia were connected to each other and the rest of the continent by a sprawling trading network called the Silk Road. Indian merchants used to trade spices, gems, and textiles, along with ideas and culture, everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the banks of the Bosphorus. Let’s work together to create a new Silk Road. Not a single thoroughfare like its namesake, but an international web and network of economic and transit connections. That means building more rail lines, highways, energy infrastructure, like the proposed pipeline to run from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan, through Pakistan into India. It means upgrading the facilities at border crossings, such as India and Pakistan are now doing at Waga. And it certainly means removing the bureaucratic barriers and other impediments to the free flow of goods and people. It means casting aside the outdated trade policies that we all still are living with and adopting new rules for the 21st century.

I was very encouraged by the reports of the resumption of discussions between India and Pakistan, the meeting between Prime Ministers Singh and Gillani at Mohali, and the forward-looking roadmap produced by the Indian and Pakistani commerce secretaries in April are very important steps. The upcoming meeting of Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers is another chance to make tangible progress. And I was pleased to see Afghanistan and Pakistan commit to implement fully their transit trade agreement. This is an agreement that Afghanistan and Pakistan started negotiating together in 1961. All these years later, they have finally signed it. And we want to see trade begin to move across that border, and then we want to see that trade expanded into Central Asia and India – two-way trade, multiple paths for trade.

Because someday, that entrepreneur here in Chennai should be able to put her products on a track – on a truck or a train that travels unimpeded, quickly, and cheaply through Pakistan, through Afghanistan, to the doorstep of her customer in Kazakhstan. A Pakistani businessman should be able to open a branch in Bangalore. An Afghan farmer should be able to sell pomegranates in Islamabad before he drives on to New Delhi. Or as Prime Minister Singh put it so beautifully, “I dream of a day, while retaining our respective identities, one can have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore, and dinner in Kabul. That is how my forefathers lived. That is how I want our grandchildren to live.” (Applause.)

I couldn’t agree more, and neither could you. Now it is just as important as applauding to support the work that must be done to realize that dream. When I look at the potential of the people in this region, I am absolutely convinced you can out-compete, outgrow, out-prosper anybody in the world. But that’s why the barriers must come down. When Indian Americans used to come to the United States, their hard work and their success was such a symbol of what was possible. Today, there’s migration back from the United States to India, because the opportunity society has arrived here. Pakistani Americans, Afghan Americans, they still come to the United States seeking opportunity. They too deserve an opportunity society. And in order to that, we have to move beyond the past into a present filled with possibility and then to make a future that delivers.

In what I’ve discussed today, India’s growing role in the Asia Pacific and in South and Central Asia, I do so because I think this is the only way forward. Yes, it is ambitious agenda, but we can afford to be ambitious, because when we in the United States and particularly in the Obama Administration look at India, we see, as President Obama said, a nation that is not simply emerging, but has emerged, and a nation with whom we share so many bonds, and one that will be a leader globally in shaping the future we will all inherit.

Now of course, both of our nations being democracies are dealing with challenges that have to be met and require immediate attention. But great nations can do more than one thing at a time. In fact, we can do many things at once by enlisting the powerful participation of our own people – Indian and American businesses, Indian and American academics, Indian and American entrepreneurs, inventors, students. In a democracy, we are all helping to shape our future. That is what sets us apart from other systems and other nations. I mean, it does look a little messier from time to time, but it is the most sustainable way human beings have found to organize themselves, and that’s what we must do.

For both America and India, the threats, the perils, the problems are discussed endlessly. Turn on the television, pick up the paper, go on the internet. But I see a much brighter picture because I think there isn’t anything we cannot do, and I believe in India’s future. This is not, therefore, a time when any of us can afford to look inward at the expense of looking outward. This is a time to seize the opportunities of the 21st century, and it is a time to lead. So I come to Chennai as an admirer of what India has accomplished, someone who, in just the course of the last 18 years, has seen the changes firsthand. There are great forces at work, but there is nothing preordained or inevitable about the future of your country or mine.

Generations before us fought to give us a democracy, fought to build our institutions, fought to overcome the inherent problems of pluralism and diversity, fought to make good the values that we know are essential to the systems that we have built. And now, it is our turn, and it is particularly the turn of the young people who are here today. For each of us to make our contribution, for each of us to work in every way we can not only for our own personal betterment – although that comes in an open society like yours and mine – but to work for the common good, to work for our nation, and to work for a world that is worthy of our dreams. So let us commit to do so. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)


FACT SHEET: The U.S. Commitment to Cookstoves in India

In September 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.  The Alliance’s ‘100 by 20’ goal calls for 100 million homes to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020.

At an event at the Working Women’s Forum in Chennai, India, Secretary Clinton today announced that two major Indian industrial organizations – the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) – have agreed to join the Alliance.  Both will be invaluable partners in building successful and sustainable cookstove businesses and consumer financing options across India.  CII has committed to link community efforts to its extensive industry network, help commercialize promising cooking technologies, and help integrate clean cookstoves into its other members’ projects.  FICCI will support small and medium-sized local cookstove enterprises, develop microfinance channels to support the purchase of cookstoves, develop women’s employment options, and support Alliance interaction with the Indian government. 

The Issue:  Nearly half of the world’s population – about 3 billion people – cooks their food each day on polluting, inefficient stoves.  Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires is the fifth worst health risk factor in poor countries and leads to nearly 2 million premature deaths of mostly women and young children each year (more than twice the mortality from malaria).  Cookstoves also increase pressures on local natural resources (e.g., forests, habitat) and contribute to climate change at the regional and global level.

In India, approximately 80 percent of rural homes and 20 percent of urban homes rely on solid fuels like wood or dung for cooking.  As a result, more than 100 million homes suffer unsafe exposures to cookstove smoke.   According to World Health Organization estimates, this exposure causes nearly 500,000 women and children in India to die prematurely each year.  Cookstoves account for about 3.5 percent of India’s national burden of disease.  Additionally, cookstoves represent about half of India’s black carbon inventory. 

A Global Alliance:  The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is working with public, private, and non-profit partners to help overcome market barriers and achieve large-scale production, deployment, and use of clean stoves and fuels in the developing world.  The Alliance comprises a rapidly growing list of nearly 100 public, private, philanthropic, NGO, academic, and other partners, including the governments of Burkina Faso, Denmark, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Honduras, Ireland, Kenya, Lesotho, Malta, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Rwanda, Spain, Tanzania, and the United States.

U.S. Government Commitment:  The United States Government has committed more than $50 million to the Alliance over the next five years.  Participating U.S. agencies include: The State Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services (National Institutes of Health; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and the U.S. Agency for International Development.  The U.S. Government is mobilizing financial resources, providing top-level U.S. experts, and leveraging research and development tools to help the Alliance achieve its ‘100 by 20’ target. Other U.S. agencies also are considering investments in this sector.

India: U.S. Government Cookstoves Activity by Agency

Department of Energy (DOE):  DOE is working to secure funding for research and development to advance clean and affordable cookstove technologies, which would be tightly linked to laboratory and field testing to ensure performance and usability of the clean stoves and to monitor adoption.  If funding is secured, DOE would look forward to engaging with research and development and testing organizations in other countries such as India to move these critical technologies forward.

Department of State:  The State Department is leading diplomatic discussions with the Government of India – as well as with private, non-governmental, and multi-lateral partners – regarding collaboration on cookstoves and the Alliance.  The State Department leads the U.S. federal interagency discussions and coordination with the Alliance, and also coordinates diplomatic dialogues related to global partnerships, health, women’s issues, climate change, and the environment.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):  EPA’s Partnership for Clean Indoor Air (PCIA) funded two pilot projects in India, organized two social marketing workshops with partners in India, organized a stove testing and design improvement capacity building workshop, and in 2007, hosted the 3rd Global PCIA Forum in Bangalore.  In addition, EPA held three stakeholder meetings in India, a stove testing workshop in Pune and is field testing First Energy’s “Oorja” stove in Kholapur; this stove will also be used in lab testing to help determine correlation of lab and field results.  EPA plans to continue capacity building activities in India – especially stove design and performance work as well as in-field stove testing.  In addition, EPA has started a productive dialogue with the Indian Government around stove testing and setting up stove testing facilities.

Health and Human Services (HHS):  Under the auspices of the Indo-U.S. Collaboration on Environmental and Occupational Health, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (with assistance from EPA) are providing technical assistance to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in support of ICMR-funded research regarding indoor air pollution affects on the following populations: (1) chronic lung disease among women; (2) pregnant mothers, adverse birth outcomes and early childhood pneumonia; (3) cardiovascular and respiratory health impacts among adults and; (4) children and asthma.  NIH also is currently supporting a research program in Vellore examining indoor air pollution as a risk factor for respiratory infections in children younger than 2 years.  Additionally, a joint initiative is being developed with the Directorate General of Health Services to better understand the impact of improved cookstoves on reducing burn injury among Indian users.

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):  NOAA scientists are collaborating with Indian scientists to develop and utilize sophisticated instruments to measure black carbon to characterize the climate impact of soot from cookstoves.

National Science Foundation (NSF):  NSF is planning to support and provide technical expertise for a workshop on cookstoves and compact power in Delhi in collaboration with IIT Delhi and the University of Maryland. 

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID):  USAID is currently implementing a cookstoves program in India to:  1) develop and test innovative demand generation strategies; 2) improve distribution channels and increase the use of microfinance; 3) collaborate with the government and other experts to help develop efficiency standards for advanced cookstoves; 4) determine and address market barriers, such as tariffs and taxes; and 5) develop and demonstrate approaches that will contribute to the Government of India’s National Biomass Cookstove Initiative.  Work is currently being done in select areas of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and is being initiated in Uttarakhand.


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