Jaishankar says India looking to work closely with US on security issues

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New Delhi: United States is one of India’s indispensable partners with whom it is seeking to work closely on security as well as economic issues, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said Wednesday.

Speaking at a discussion on strengthening of US-India strategic and commercial partnership, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first meeting with US President Donald Trump in June was a “very clear meeting of minds”.

India, he said, is going through big changes and “in making those changes happen, the US is the, or (is) one of the, indispensable partners.”

On Modi’s June visit to the US where Trump praised him for being “such a great prime minister” of India, Jaishankar said there was quality of discussion, “chemistry” between them, participation on the larger theme and perception of similar challenges for working together.

It was “very clear meeting of minds,” he said, adding a lot was said about the challenges of forging a relationship.

“I must tell you that we came out of that very confident of that relationship.”

India’s relations with the US has seen a “steady climb” in three preceding administration.

“There are no pressing issues, no huge problems. When I look at the rest of the world looking at the Trump administration and India approaching, I found we have a very solid base here,” he said.

Stating that he was “very optimistic” about US-India economic ties, he said a big change in relations between two nations has been that business today has become central to the relationship.

“Look at the business content of the relationship and to my mind of the many changes this is a very big change,” he said.

America’s relations with Europe, the UK and Japan are “ultimately sustained by business”.

“Good politics, grand strategy – I accept all of that but the bread and butter was business,” he said, adding the good sense of Modi’s meeting with American CEOs has been “actually carried to the White House”.

“It was very very helpful for us to have both the tailwinds because what it did was it created an impression and a pre-conception that this is the government which is committed to do more business with America, and I think that gave the relationship a positive direction,” he said.

India would aspire to be in a similar situation with other countries. “I think there are countries which will be closer to where we are with the US in terms of business, they are the countries where we are still struggling to make business central as we have managed to do with the US,” he said.

On things that were important for India to derive from relations with the US and vice versa, Jaishankar said top on the list was to have a “political supporting position” and working together on security issues as well as very strong economic aspects.

Issues like terrorism, maritime security, energy and lifestyles are not issues that any country can work by itself or on purely bilateral basis, he said.

“When you go into these big discussion and say we are supporting each other we may not fully agree but you created a much larger comfort level for the relationship,” he said.

Three-four decades back, there was not enough resilience and comfort. “There wasn’t enough of a relationship.”

Things have gone beyond that stage.

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