US And India Partnership Is Smart, Strategic Bet, Says John Kerry At Gujarat Summit

12/01/2015 2:02 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Vibrant Gujarat conference in Ahmedabad, India, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. Kerry is in India to attend an international investment conference and push trade ties with the giant South Asian nation ahead of visit by President Barack Obama later this month. (AP Photo/Rick Wilking, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry today said President Obama's upcoming visit to India was a great opportunity for the two nations to raise the level of cooperation to their potential.

"I am very impressed with what I've seen here," Kerry said while interacting with reporters in at the Vibrant Gujarat summit in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. "I think that opportunities for co-operation are enormous," he said.

In an earlier speech, Kerry had said that the United States wants to raise trade with India to $500 billion a year, more than five times of the level in 2013.

"We can do more together, and we can do it faster," he said today. Kerry also said that Prime Minister Modi had built his reputation on his work in Gujarat where he had simplified decisions, and pushed for accountability. "If that can be extrapolated to the rest of India, we all benefit," he said.

Kerry said that his visit and that of President Obama offer opportunities for deals in areas such as climate change, defence, civil nuclear cooperation and trade and investment. "For both India and the United States, investing in each other's success is frankly in both of our interests. It is really a smart, strategic bet for both the countries."

Obama's upcoming visit has accelerated negotiations between the India and the U.S. on several issues. Obama will become the first American president to visit India twice while in office, and the only one to be the chief guest at the Republic day parade. However, it is not clear if the negotiations might lead to significant agreements during the visit.

Caps on foreign investment and legal provisions in India have hampered the entry and growth of American businesses in India. They have pushed for a repeal in the nuclear liability law passed by the previous Indian government to clear the way for investments in nuclear plants, which India needs to address widening power shortages. Disputes over intellectual property have also slowed investment.

On climate change, one of Obama's policy priorities, India has refused to accept demands for putting limits on emissions. While that position is unlikely to change, a deal to clear investments in renewable energy, such as solar, might happen. So far, U.S. companies have stayed away because of Indian requirements that components of India's solar projects be made in India, where the dominant source of energy continues to be coal.

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