The strategic India-U.S. relationship is unlikely to slow down due to the general elections next year, as top officials from both the sides have chalked out an action plan to keep the momentum going.
"We expect the intensity of the strategic partnership to continue to grow. This (India-U.S. relationship) is an ongoing process. Regardless of elections, this is going to continue," sources said as Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh concluded her four-day trip here during which she met top American officials.
Singh's U.S. visit was preceded by the Army Chief Gen. Bikram Singh's tour earlier this month. The Chief Election Commissioner arrived Dec. 14. A Congressional delegation is soon headed to India, which would be followed by a trip by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal in January.
In addition to Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials at the State Department, the White House and the Pentagon, Singh had a series of meetings with top American lawmakers including Senators Mark Warner (co-chair of the Senate India Caucus), Robert Menendez (chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee), Ed Royce (chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee) and Joe Crowley (co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans).
Describing the meetings as exceedingly useful and very productive, sources said that Singh left Washington highly impressed by the depth and richness of the relationship.
Singh had a productive meeting with Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel B. Poneman not just on civil nuclear energy, but also on other sources of energy including shale gas.
In her meeting with Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James N. Miller, she discussed implementing the joint defense declaration issued after the September meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama.
On Dec. 11, Singh had strategic security dialogue with Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller.
India has sought access to LeT operative David Headley, the Mumbai terror attack convict now lodged in an American prison, as it insisted on bringing to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 assault.
Singh strongly raised the issue of access to 52-year-old Headley by Indian intelligence agencies, sources said.
Remaining non-committal, American officials said that they are working on it. However, the United States assured India that it would continue to push Pakistan to bring to justice those who were responsible for the 26/11 carnage that left 166 people, including six Americans, dead.
Singh also discussed with U.S. officials the situation in the region, in particular Afghanistan and Pakistan.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that the U.S. and India “agreed to joint principles to strengthen India-U.S. cooperation on training UN peacekeepers, developed with support from the Department's Global Peace Operations Initiative, adding, "The United States also accepted India's invitation to serve as a partner country for India's technology summit and expo in New Delhi in the fall of 2014, further intensifying our broad scientific cooperation.”
On the trade and investment side, the two delegations discussed the issues that were of concern to the U.S. as well as that of India.
While the United States side raised the issue of intellectual property rights, compulsory licensing and foreign direct investment, India raised the issue of immigration reform, certain provisions of which are hurting Indian companies.
Kerry held wide-ranging talks with Singh on key issues, including the regional situation with respect to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
No official statement on the meeting, pictures of which were posted on the twitter feed of the South and Central Asia Bureau of the State Department, were made available from either side.
However, officials familiar with the talks described it as a highly useful meeting.