New Delhi, Jan 18: India-US ties are on a solid upper trajectory and the incoming Donald Trump administration will find the relationship on a very solid footing, departing US Ambassador to India Richard Verma has said.
Verma, who presented his credentials in Rashtrapati Bhavan in January 2015, told Karan Thapar in an interview telecast on India Today TV that his tenure saw two of the best years in India-US ties and the credit for this went to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and outgoing US President Barack Obama.
"We are on a now solid upper trajectory," he said. He pointed out that Modi and Obama met nine times, had three summit-level meetings, and the two sides had over 100 government-to-government meetings.
According to the Ambassador, defence cooperation between the two countries have gone beyond buyer-seller relationship and there is now a special cell in the Pentagon that solely looks at defence technology with India. He also mentioned the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (Lemoa) signed by the two countries last year and said that "our two militaries are great together".
Verma reiterated the US's support for India's membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), something that was stalled by China in the 48-nation group's plenary in Seoul in June last year. He stated that clean energy and climate change were the "two signature global agreements" signed by the two sides. According to Verma, US firm Westinghouse has already made a commercial offer last year to make nuclear power plants in India.
He also said that counter-terrorism operations formed a key part of India-US ties. Regarding Pakistan's state sponsorship of terrorism, the Ambassador said "we have taken a very strong line". As for India-Pakistan ties, he said the US wanted the two South Asian neighbours to solve their problems.
Regarding the fate of India-US ties with the Trump administration taking over, he said "we are putting our relationship on very strong footing for the new administration". Asked about Trump's statements regarding cutting down on H1-B visas that might likely affect Indian IT companies, he said it was not a new issue and he himself had been working on this.
"We have to sit across the table and sort this out," he said. Asked how it felt to be the first ever Indian-origin US Ambassador to India, he said "it was an immense sense of pride" for him. Verma said that during the course of his two-year tenure, he visited 25 Indian states.