Washington, Jan 18: US President Barack Obama's unprecedented second visit to India offers an "incredibly important opportunity" for the world's two largest democracies to tap the "real potential" of their strategic ties, a top American diplomat has said.
The "real potential" of Indo-US strategic and economic relationship, which leaders of the two countries have been striving for the past two decades, is coming to "fruition" after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India with an impressive mandate, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal said.
"We are starting to see that strategic importance actually manifested in the quality of our engagements. In the nature of the conversations we are having on the whole they are not just bilateral, but also regional and global issues. That has always been and that is what both countries have aspired to, but I think, we are now achieving it in real and tangible ways.
"The pace and the level of engagement is the most intense and at the most senior level, that I have ever seen," Biswal told PTI in an interview ahead of Obama's visit to New Delhi. At the invitation of Modi, Obama will be in New Delhi as the chief guest of the Republic Day parade on January 26, making him the first US President to visit India twice while in office.
The Obama Administration's top diplomat for South and Central Asia was in India recently along with Secretary of State John Kerry. After the September 30 White House meeting between Obama and Modi, there has been an unprecedented level of engagement between the two countries.
In the last three months, at least three dozen high-level meetings have taken place both in India and the US, with several of them as late as this week and a few of them scheduled for the next week as well. Biswal said Kerry's recent visit to attend the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, a state-level meeting, in Ahmedabad "represents the importance that the United States places on India's economic transformation".
"We want to be partner in this endeavour," Biswal said, noting that though the meeting was on investing in Gujarat, but was also on economic agenda for India as well. The occasion as also used by Kerry to meet Modi in Ahmedabad and give a final shape to the agenda of talks for the Obama-Modi summit in New Delhi later this month.
"It was also an opportunity, two weeks before the President's visit to be able to engage with the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet on the important agenda for the President's visit.
"We see this as an incredibly important opportunity," she said, adding that the two leaders were able to have good conversations about the priorities for Obama's visit as well as to be able to talk about the bilateral and the economic relationship.