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Momentum for Indo-US ties building at Capitol Hill

“Cooperation with India is perhaps most crucial for our future in the area of climate,” Boyer said on twitter account, adding that there is a much room for progress.

The momentum for strengthening the Indo-US ties seems to be building at the Capitol Hill this year as the Trump administration is in the process of formulating its India policy and building a team to implement that. The ongoing trip of a record 26 influential American lawmakers to India is a reflection of this. Also the new Indian Ambassador to the US, Navtej Sarna, met several dozen powerful Congressmen from both the Republican and the Democratic parties in recent weeks.

“India is one of our closest allies and biggest trading partners, and a particularly crucial participant in the fight against climate change,” Congressman Don Beyer, currently on a visit to India as part of a bipartisan Congressional delegation, said in a post on Facebook.

“Cooperation with India is perhaps most crucial for our future in the area of climate,” Boyer said on twitter account, adding that there is a much room for progress.

Republican Congressman from West Virginia David B McKinley told his support base that coal could be a major reason for strengthening India-US bilateral ties. Chairman of the Congressional Coal Caucus, McKinley is currently visiting India as part of another Congressional delegation.

“Fortunately, coal is still part of India’s future. They have a voracious appetite for it. Were you aware India is the third largest market for West Virginia coal? We export more coal to India than any other state,” he said in a speech read out in his absentia before the West Virginia Mining Symposium. Other lawmakers too are keeping their constituencies posted on their India tour.

Sarna has described the visit of 26 members of the Congress as a very important milestone and demonstrative of the high degree of interest in India, and the strong bipartisan support for the India-US relationship, based on shared democratic values and converging strategic interests.

“We look forward to a more robust economic and commercial cooperation as India retains its spot as the fastest growing major economy,” said Sarna, who in the last few weeks has met more than three dozen top American lawmakers.

These including a dozen of powerful Senators like Senator Richard Durbin, Senate Democratic Whip, Senators John Cornyn and Mark Warner, who are co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus, two presidential candidates Senators Tim Kaine and Ted Cruz; Senator Richard Burr, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Senator John McCain, Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee.

From the House of Representatives, the Ambassador has met among others Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader; Steny Hoyer, House Democratic Whip; House India Caucus Co-Chairs Ami Bera and George Holding, Ed Royce who is Chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, Bob Goodlatter, Chairman of House Judiciary Committee and Michael Turner, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Fondly recalling visits by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, all lawmakers reiterated the close and ever growing bonds between world’s oldest and largest democracies- underlining the strong bipartisan support enjoyed by brand India in United States.

During their interaction, they expressed their personal commitment for further strengthening the bilateral ties in various spheres; including political, security and economic in the new Congress as well, sources said.

During the meeting, the Ambassador also raised India’s concerns on the issue of terror and regional instability; and its global impact.

Sarna underlined that US and India need to stand shoulder to shoulder to fight this menace.

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Reconstruction of war ravaged Afghan society was a talking point an example of close and productive India-US cooperation in the region, officials said. In the economic sphere, various reforms like GST and new Make in India initiatives aimed at reducing corruption and increasing transparency and ease of doing business were discussed.

Sarna also briefed lawmakers on the recent developments in the bilateral relations in the areas of defence (Major Defence Partner status, DTTI, co-production/co-development, military exercises, LEMOA), geo-strategic changes (Asia-Pacific, Middle East etc), security and counterterrorism challenges, climate change and renewable energy, trade and economic, diaspora concerns etc.