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External Affairs Minister Mr. S.M. Krishna's Opening Statement at the Press Conference

Thank you, Madam Secretary.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I am particularly pleased to be co-chairing this dialogue with Secretary Clinton, whom we consider as a dear and longstanding friend. She is a true believer in the vast potential of the India-US partnership. I want to thank her for her gracious hospitality and the splendid co-ordination by her colleagues that has, no doubt, gone into the preparations for this inaugural meeting of the India-US Strategic Dialogue. This dialogue, as Secretary Clinton said, is a unique forum that really brings together all the different threads of our extraordinarily wide agenda and allows us to look at the entire relationship in an integrated, strategic fashion.

I would like to emphasise the importance that our Prime Minister attaches to India-US Strategic Dialogue, and to India-US relationship. He and President Obama reaffirmed, when they last met, their commitment to taking this relationship to a new level of co-operation - a global strategic partnership for the 21st century between India and the United States.

We consider our strategic partnership with the United States as one of our key foreign policy priorities. The United States is the largest economy in the world. India is emerging as one of the world’s largest – and one of its fastest growing – economies. The relationship rests on a solid bedrock of shared values. There are few relationships in the world that have so much potential as India-US relations. Therefore, I believe, that our cooperation is not only for great mutual benefit, but we can work together to make a significant contribution to global peace, prosperity and stability in the 21st century.

Secretary Clinton and I, joined by senior colleagues, have had a very comprehensive and productive discussion today. Our discussions covered a broad range of global economic and security issues. We agreed to continue the practice of close and regular consultation, and to remain sensitive to each other’s interests and concerns.

We expressed the hope that the G-20 meeting in Canada later this month will stimulate further coordinated international efforts for economic recovery and stabilization and to safeguard our goal of balanced and sustainable development.

We had a very good exchange of views on reforms necessary not only in the international economic architecture, but also in the global political and security architecture, including the UN Security Council, so as to reflect contemporary global realities, as President Obama’s National Security Strategy also points out.

We shared concerns about developments in Asia, including on the Korean peninsula. We have a common interest in advancing security and stability across Asia. We shared our perspectives on South and Central Asia, East and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean Region.

India and the United States have a shared convergent goal of a stable, peaceful, pluralistic and democratic Afghanistan, which protects the rights and the dignity of all sections of Afghan society. India and the United States are partners in achieving these goals. I conveyed our view that these goals can be best advanced through sustained international commitment to Afghanistan, by building Afghan capacities for governance and security through initiatives that are led and controlled by the Afghans themselves. We agreed on the importance of avoiding choices that lead us into the dark alleys of the 1990s, and the importance of safeguarding the gains and progress that have been made since then, especially with regard to the position and rights of women in Afghanistan.

Our dialogue has further increased our understanding on the nature and source of terrorism that threatens both our societies. We agreed that terrorist groups operate as a syndicate, leveraging each other’s assets and strength, and are increasingly converging together on motivation and targets. Hence, a segmented approach towards terrorism, especially in our neighbourhood, would not succeed. We are pleased with the way our counter-terrorism cooperation has progressed, and today we have agreed to intensify it further.

We discussed the steps that we should take to further deepen our growing defence and security cooperation, including defence trade and collaboration, which has grown rapidly in recent years.

We had, again, a very good discussion on economic cooperation, high technology exports to India, cooperation in higher education, healthcare, science and technology, empowerment, agriculture, climate change and energy. In each of these areas, there is immense opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation that will make a significant contribution towards creating jobs and prosperity in both countries.

I am pleased that there is a strong balance and momentum in trade and investment in both directions. Secretary Clinton and I agreed that we have to go beyond multiplying our trade and investments. We are two innovative societies with a proven track record of success in partnerships for innovation. India is making a modest but meaningful contribution, based on its experience and expertise and our resources, to development efforts in other countries. This is an area where we have a lot to learn from each other and we had a very useful discussion on these issues today.

In short, our dialogue was wide-ranging. We have identified the areas of our strategic priority and the roadmap for cooperation in each of these areas. Secretary Clinton and I have agreed to monitor progress and meet again in 2011.

We look forward to warmly welcoming President Obama and his family in India later this year.

I would like to thank my colleagues, Shri Kapil Sibal, Minister for Human Resource Development , Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia , Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission , Shri Prtithviraj Chavan, Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences and other senior officers who joined me here in Washington - after having held a series of meetings with their US counterparts - for the Strategic Dialogue today.

Thank you, once again, Madam Secretary.