U.S.’ first Hindu Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard, who met with Navtej Sarna, the Indian envoy to the U.S., at the FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum in New York July 14, said that “The number of military-to-military engagement and exercises between U.S. and India exceeds any other partner in the region and it is only continuing to grow.” (IANS photo)

NEW YORK — A stronger partnership in dealing with counter-terrorism will give an impetus to the India-U.S. relations, U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has said.

“The number of military-to-military engagement and exercises between U.S. and India exceeds any other partner in the region and it is only continuing to grow,” the Hawaiian Democrat said at the FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum here July 14.

Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to the Congress, was in conversation with the Indian envoy to the U.S., Navtej Sarna, at the event.

They discussed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the U.S. last month to meet President Donald Trump and how opportunities must be explored to further strengthen ties between the two countries.

Stressing the need to boost counter-terrorism, Gabbard said: “There is a recognition of the benefit to continuing to strengthen the partnership and engagement, to ensure the countries are stable and that we deal with unconventional counter-terror threats together... Because then we will be stronger.”

Sarna pointed out the ongoing Malabar joint naval exercise, which is aimed at enhancing interoperability between the navies of India, U.S. and Japan, saying, “Aircraft carriers from India and U.S. are exercising together with submarines. This year, India has been designated as a major defense partner by the U.S... We need to fight this together, and we appreciate the personal reactions we got on the recent attack on pilgrims in India.”

Gabbard also said there’s still a lot of excitement in Washington around Modi’s visit.

“For those of us on the India-U.S. Caucus and those who have been working on India-US partnership for years, everyone is saying it that these are the most exciting times for friendship between both the countries.

She mentioned that economic partnerships were flourishing and so were relationships in technology, education, culture and the arts. “Having the IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) celebrations here is appropriate given how much interest not just the Indian American audience has, but the Americans as a whole have in films coming from India. This is increasing the understanding and affinity between the people of the two countries,” she said.

Sarna appreciated how the support for India-U.S. engagement is “bipartisan and across the political spectrum.” He also said that during Modi’s visit to meet Trump, they “hit it off in terms of understanding, engaging each other and listening to each other’s concerns.” 

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