Asserting that the United States-India relationship is grounded in shared values, US Vice President Mike Pence on Monday said that the ties between the two largest democracies have grown dramatically in the last 20 years, but the best is yet to come.
Speaking at an interactive session at the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, Pence said that it is a relationship that is founded on the shared values, a commitment of the two of the world's largest democracies to economic freedom and exchange.
"While the relationship (between India and the US) has grown dramatically over the last 20 years, we think the best is yet to come," he said in a virtual fire side chat from the White House in a conversation with John Chambers, former executive chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, during the third India-US Leadership Summit organised by the USISPF.
Pence, in response to a question from Chambers, who is also the USISPF chairman, said that he truly believes that the relationship between the US and India, because much of the work that the corporate sector have done, and the work of President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has never been stronger.
"But I really do believe that all of us continue to build the ties that bind on the foundation which we built this relationship, the best is yet to come, for the US-India, relationship in the years ahead," Pence said.
Noting that faith, family and freedom are among the values that are shared between the US and India, Pence said when one thinks of the two of the greatest democracies on earth today, the relationship Trump has forged with Modi, it is ultimately grounded in shared values.
"And on that foundation, we will continue to build for the prosperity of our country and the strength of this relationship," he said.
Pence said that four million Indian-Americans have made enormous contribution in the incredible relationship that they have helped to facilitate and forge between the United States and India.
The Trump administration has reaffirmed America's commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, he said.
"While we saw China with the One Belt, One Road initiative, under President Trump's leadership, we reaffirmed our commitment to the economies of the region to America's interest and partner with India," he said as he identified energy, infrastructure and space as some of the areas that would strengthen this partnership in the decades to come.
Pence, who is chair of the National Space Council, said that the United States is in regular consultation with India about partnership in space exploration.
"We welcome that partnership and recognise the incredible innovation and technological capabilities that that Indian firms and the people of India bring to that project," he said.
India-US partnership, he asserted, is their strategic interests in the region, about the prosperity of the two nations, but it 'really is about a boundless future together' with the United States and India.
Responding to a question on China, Pence said that most of the tariffs Trump imposed on China are all still in place.
"We have ways to go before we reset this relationship and level the playing field for American workers and for American jobs," he said, adding that Trump truly does believe that America's best posture with China, or any other nation in the world with which they are in a competitive relationship or worse, is strength.
The American strength first comes from the military and economically, but also from the strength of relationships.
"There's no question that that the relationship that has been forged over the years, and then under President Trump and Prime Minister Modi has never been stronger," he said, adding that it will strengthen the hands of those who want to see a future of freedom in the Indo-Pacific, and a future of freedom across Asia.
The four million-strong members of the Indian diaspora across the United States represent some of the best people in this country and they are creating wealth and prosperity, Pence said.
Acknowledging the challenges in the country's immigration system, Pence said that Trump has been working to secure the border and fix the broken immigration system, once and for all.
"As the president and I have spoken many times, part of that second term agenda is going to be the kind of immigration reform that's built on the principle of a merit-based immigration system.
"We want people to come to this country that are ready to participate, ready to contribute as people from India have done as people in the United States have done," he said.
"So, I just want the rising generation in India and Indian business leaders, men and women, who are looking to make investments in this country to know that America is not only open for business but we look forward to growing the relationship between our two countries for decades to come," Pence added.