Seminar on Indo-US Relations: The Way Forward
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VIF and the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, jointly organised a seminar ‘India-US Relations: the Way Forward’ on 05 February 2015. The seminar was a take off from the Quad-plus dialogue held recently in Bali, Indonesia, where security experts from the two institutions participated along with representatives from Japan, Australia, Indonesia and Philippines.

The seminar, third in a series of ongoing interactions between the two institutions, sought to explore potentials for evolving a broader framework of cooperation between India and the United States across the entire bilateral and regional spectrum. The three main themes of the conference were: challenges and opportunities in defence cooperation, developments in Afghanistan and counter terrorism cooperation, and East Asian security architecture and regional power play.

The Heritage Foundation was represented by three eminent experts: James Carafano, Vice President, Heritage Foundation, Walter Lohman, Director Asia Studies, and Lisa Curtis, Senior Fellow. Participants from the VIF, led by General NC Vij, former Chief of the Indian Army and present Director, included, among others, Lt Gen RK Sawhney, Amb Kanwal Sibal, Amb Satish Chandra, Amb Rajiv Sikri, CD Sahay, former Chief RAW and Dr. VK Saraswat, former Director DRDO.

H.E. Richard Verma, the newly appointed US Ambassador to India, delivered the Keynote address. He was welcomed to the Foundation by General Vij who also congratulated him on his appointment and wished him a successful and defining tenure in India.

Describing the US President Barack Obama’s recently concluded visit to India as ‘transformative’, H.E. Richard Verma said the leaders of the two countries, through a series of official as well as personal engagements in recent months, have not only opened up new possibilities in bilateral cooperation but also set forth a sweeping vision for partnership that can lead the world to greater peace, prosperity and security. He also spoke of the increasing convergence of interests between the two democracies across a range of issues including security, trade, nuclear energy, climate change, among others. While he said India’s ‘Act East’ policy and US’ rebalancing strategy are complimentary in nature, he also pointed to India’s rising profile across Asia. The Ambassador complimented India for resolving its maritime dispute with Bangladesh peacefully through international arbitration. H.E. further underscored that US and India together can contribute significantly towards peace and security in the region.

Echoing similar views, General Vij said while the US President’s visit to India for the Republic Day celebrations and his series of interactions with the Indian Prime Minister over the past few months have unlocked the potentials for a greater bilateral cooperation, the more serious challenge lies in taking the momentum forward. He mentioned further that the bilateral defence cooperation is set to move beyond seller-buyer relationship to one of joint production and sharing of technologies. James Carafano, Vice President Heritage Foundation, said the timing for defence cooperation is perfectly right both from business and strategic perspectives.

Various issues such as India’s defence industrial complex, especially the defence manufacturing under ‘Make in India’, defence procurement procedure, defence budgeting and finance, potential for arms export to third countries, maintenance and availability of spare parts through the entire life cycle of imported defence hardware, bilateral cooperation against terrorism, Afghanistan’s potential implosion post draw down and Pakistan’s persistence with its elusive search for strategic depth in Afghanistan, an ASEAN centric security architecture in East Asia and Trans-pacific partnership were discussed during the course of seminar.

The seminar, interspersed with extensive brainstorming and questions and answers, was structured into three sessions, with equal representation given to both sides in each session. Lt. Gen. JP Singh, Former Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Ajai Sahni, Executive Director Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi, and Sanjay Singh, Former Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, and Dr. VK Saraswat were amongst prominent speakers on the VIF panel. General Vij, Lt Gen RK Sawhney, Distinguished Fellow VIF, and Amb Kanwal Sibal, Dean International Relations, VIF chaired the respective sessions. Significant contributions were also made by Vice Adm Anup Singh, Vice Adm Raman Puri, Lt Gen Ata Hasnain, and Amb Arundhati Ghose, among others.

Event Date 
February 5, 2015
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