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Remarks at the Opening Session of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
As Prepared for Delivery
New Delhi, India
July 19, 2011

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.

PRN: 2011/T51-11

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