USA, India natural partners; together we can achieve a lot: Ambassador Jones
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Sriram Karri
Hyderabad: On a brief visit to Hyderabad, United States chargé d’affaires and acting interim ambassador A. Elizabeth Jones, said there were few niggles in the Indo-US relationship and, with the two countries being natural partners, there was the positivity that together the two nations could achieve a lot.
She was interacting with a select media group at the US Consulate in the city, after a visit to the Spanish mosque here and an event at the Paigah tombs to announce aid for the restoration of several monuments.
She promised that the US was giving priority to reducing the waiting lines for visitor visas, especially for the large student community, with rapid staffing initiatives and finishing touches being given to the new US Consulate facility to be inaugurated later this year to ensure Indians could visit the US.
"We have given top most priority to students to get visas. Families and students across India, and especially from the two Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, are very keen on visas. We have given a lot of priority to ensure over 2,00,000 students got visas. We are continuing our efforts to hire and train new staff, and bring them on board across our facilities to ensure visas services are optimised," Ambassador Jones said.
On the importance of Hyderabad, Jones said, "The state of Telangana at large, and Hyderabad in particular, exemplifies the Indo-US relationship. I earlier visited the facility where Lockheed-Martin and Tata work in the defence space in a joint venture. American businesses have invested billions of dollars in Hyderabad and have created hundreds of thousands of jobs here. Businesses in both countries are continuously exploring more opportunities."
Ambassador Jones, with over 38 years in the US Foreign Service, and prior stints in several countries in Europe and Asia, including Germany, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Egypt, said that the US respected India’s sovereignty and expected all countries to respect India’s territory.
"We cannot and will not interfere in India, China border issues but are happy that the two countries are resolving their issues through bilateral engagements and dialogue," she said.
Welcoming India’s presidency of the G20, she said, "The actual interactions and dialogues have to start, but this year will be marked by several significant bilateral events. India has already expressed its broad vision for it. There will be several senior official-level engagements, including at Cabinet rank. Everyone is looking forward to India’s presidency."
She also spoke about the crucial Quad engagements, and the two plus two (2+2) bilateral talks, saying, India and America have strong and growing partnerships in energy, environment, global warming, trade, defence, people-to-people engagements, and that the partnership was also crucial for the world, as it can be a force for a larger good.
"As part of Quad, we took vaccines made here in India, in Hyderabad, to not just benefit the people of our two countries, but many countries," she said. "There are many joint military exercises, including naval exercises in the eastern Indian waters, which showcase the importance the US gives to India as a partner."
Refusing to call India’s stance on the Russian-Ukraine war disappointing, she said, "In relationships between countries, no country tells another what it must do. We respect India’s stance, even if sometimes we may disagree with it. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advice that in this era, war is no solution and that talks must resolve all differences with Russia is very welcome. Similarly, India’s aid and support to Ukraine has been very useful."
On the issue of the lack of a full-time formal Ambassador to India for two years, she said, "We give the utmost importance to our relationship with India. It is just the way the US system works that we could not have a full-time, formally cleared appointee as Ambassador but it speaks of the strength of our bilateral ties, that because of clear policy directives of both governments, so many developments have continued to happen. The process of naming an Ambassador is on, though I can’t say when it will happen."
United States President Joe Biden had last Tuesday re-nominated Eric Garcetti, the former mayor of Los Angeles, as ambassador to India, the White House said, after sending the nomination to the Senate.
In conclusion, she said, it was almost unique to America’s relationship with India that there are no major disagreements on any front and the bonds continue to become stronger and better.