Kerry’s remarks at the joint press briefing with Sushma SwaraJ in Delhi
Well, good evening and thank you very much. Thank you, Minister Swaraj, for your very thoughtful comments. And thank you for an outstanding dialogue throughout the course of today, and thank you for your partnership on so many important issues. In more than two years of working together, I have to say that you have always lived up to your reputation as a fierce advocate for India’s interests and for India’s citizens, and I know that you have never wavered in your belief about the importance of strengthening the relationship between India and the United States, and we thank you for that.
I also want to thank my colleague and my friend, Secretary Penny Pritzker, and her counterpart, Ms. Minister Sitharaman, both of whom have understood the importance of the commercial ties between our countries and of also bringing our private sector leaders to the table for these discussions. And we had private sector leaders, very important leaders, and Mr. Mistry of the Tata Group and David Cote of Honeywell, and they contributed significantly to this discussion.
Let me just for a moment, on a personal level, make a comment of observation that I made at the end of our meeting today. I’ve had the privilege of coming to India since I think in the 1990’s, if I recall correctly, as a senator. And I had the chance to on occasion talk with various groups about our relationship, and I experienced a period of time when we were struggling to come out of the Cold War still and struggling to build a relationship. In the last two years, I must say, there has been no sense of that. We have really moved amazingly in this relationship, and the evidence of that is that just yesterday, our defense minister in the United States and your defense minister visiting in Washington signed a defense logistics agreement between our countries. Today, we signed a cyber agreement where we will work together on cyber issues. We have topped $15 billion in defense trade between our countries.
We have agreed now to move forward on six Westinghouse nuclear reactors, which will provide energy for 60 million Indians, not to mention an enormous number of jobs. We have some 40 government working groups that are now engaged in working on different issues, and some 70 or so initiatives between our countries. So I think we are witnessing a moment that defines, for certain, a very different and renewed relationship between the United States and India. And all of these steps, and more than I have just mentioned, have strengthened and redefined our dialogue, and they have energized our entire relationship. And I think Sushma would agree with me about that.
To me the wide-ranging talks and constructive talks that we held this afternoon reaffirm something that we can’t take for granted, and that is that when two democracies that are as large, as dynamic, as vibrant, as interdependent as ours get together, we can not only make a big difference for our citizens, but I believe we can make a difference in taking steps that have an impact – a positive impact – on people in the rest of the world. And I was struck by the comment that Sushma made just a moment ago about – this is a discussion that, because of India’s size, does represent more than one-sixth of humanity on this planet. That is an important discussion by definition. That is why President Obama made the U.S.-India relationship such a high priority for him and I’m sure it is why Prime Minister Modi did the same, and it’s why our agenda today was such a large agenda. I’m very pleased to report that we made headway on a variety of issues in this second Security & Commercial Dialogue.
To bolster our mutual defense in an age when threats can come from literally anywhere, we committed to a joint cyber framework to reduce cyber crime, to encourage responsible behavior in cyberspace, to improve coordination among our technical experts, and to improve coordination among our law enforcement agencies, and to promote cyber research and development. And we reaffirmed India as our major defense partner and welcomed the signing of this new agreement that took place in Washington. To more effectively counter the threat that is posed by violent extremism within both of our borders and beyond, we agreed to expand the exchange of terrorist screening information, to deepen cooperation in designating terrorist groups at the United Nations, and to expedite mutual requests for legal assistance.
More broadly, we have reiterated our unwavering commitment to the protection of our citizens and to defeating the terrorist mantra of bigotry and of hate.
Let me be clear, the United States continues to support all efforts to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai and the Pathankot attacks to justice, and we cannot and we will not make distinctions between good and bad terrorists. Terror is terror no matter where it comes from or who carries it out.
And to build on our shared leadership in combating climate change, the United States is going to do more to help India upgrade its power grid and work with our private sectors in order to help provide financing for innovative renewable energy projects and clean energy entrepreneurs. That is the only way we will have a chance of adequately meeting the promise of Paris and adequately meeting the challenge of climate change.
Our civil nuclear cooperation will bring affordable, clean energy to tens of millions of Indian households as we move closer in the use of safe, modern, latest-generation modular nuclear power. And my government looks forward to making the promise of Paris a reality and of being one of the countries that will soon officially join the global climate agreement.
Now, to halt unnecessary loss of life and prevent diseases, we intend to develop and start clinical trials for vaccines against dengue and tuberculosis. And to reaffirm our mutual roles as essential players on behalf of security and progress in this region, we will restart trilateral talks between the United States, India, and Afghanistan at the United Nations General Assembly next month. Doing so is going to enable us to determine how best to build on the past gains of securing villages, empowering women, educating students, and promoting good governance across Afghanistan. And I want to thank India for the important contribution it has been making to the efforts in Afghanistan.
Now there were, of course, a lot of other issues that we discussed, including our robust student exchange programs, cooperation in space, support for women’s rights, and making it easier for Indian travelers to enter the United States. The bottom line is that India and the United States are more deeply engaged on more important issues than at any time in the history of our relationship. In other words, we are cooperating and we are working more closely together than ever before, and this is a product of the many interests and the values that we share, and is a process I think that also comes from the deep respect that we have for each other and for the personal relationship that Prime Minister Modi and President Obama have built together.
In closing, I again thank my friend, Minister Swaraj, for her special hospitality and her leadership, and to say that I look forward to our continued collaboration on behalf of peace and security in the months and the weeks to come. Thank you