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Rediff.com  » News » Top US official attends R-Day celebration in Washington

Top US official attends R-Day celebration in Washington

January 24, 2014 13:50 IST

Setting aside the recent tumult in relations caused by the Khobragade episode, US Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom attended the first major event India's new Ambassador Dr S Jaishankar hosted in Washington. Rediff.com's Aziz Haniffa reports from the Republic Day celebration in the US capital.

Scores of officials from United States President Barack Obama's administration, Indian-American community leaders, policy experts and India well-wishers braved the bone-chilling cold and gusty winds on Thursday, January 23, to attend the Republic Day celebration hosted by India's new Ambassador to the US, Dr Subrahmanyan Jaishankar at his home.

Welcoming the guests along with his wife Kyoko, Dr Jaishankar said, "I have been associated with this relationship for over three decades and I deem it a great privilege to come back as ambassador of India."

"During these three decades, I have seen the consummation of the relationship and I am convinced that given our political convergence, our economic cooperation, our shared values and ideals, we can take this relationship to still higher levels," Dr Jaishankar, who played a key role in framing the India-US civilan nuclear agreement said.

Newly-minted US Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom, in her remarks, said: "While he (Dr Jaishankar) may be newly arrived here as the ambassador, he already has a very long and distinguished history of strengthening the partnership between our two nations."

"India's Republic Day reminds us of the strength of India's democratic institutions and traditions," Higginbottom said. "And it also reminds us of the strength of the ties between our people and our governments."

"As we often say, we have a strategic partnership between the oldest and the largest democracies in the world. We have a broad range of joint efforts and shared interests that keep propelling us forward."

Higginbottom then rattled off a laundry list of these joint efforts, saying, "Our space cooperation has given Indian farmers better weather forecasts; our homeland security dialogue has made our countries safer from terrorist attacks; our health initiatives have enhanced our ability to detect dangerous pathogens that threaten all people; our work on climate and energy issues has generated billions in funding for clean initiatives; our close cooperation on education brings faculty and researchers from India into US universities, and facilitates scholarly exchanges, and our strong trade and investment ties fight poverty and drive growth in both countries."

She also pointed out that "We have reached close to $100 billion in bilateral trade each year -- numbers that we expect to see increase in the coming years."

"Beyond our bilateral relations," Higginbottom added, "we are strong partners in building an international framework to underpin continued peace and prosperity. Our regional dialogues, including the US-India-Japan trilateral exchange and the ASEAN Regional Forum, have helped develop a shared vision for stability in Asia and the Indian and Pacific Oceans."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC