John Kerry heads for India to attend Vibrant Gujarat Summit

John Kerry heads for India to attend Vibrant Gujarat Summit - Sakshi Post

Washington: US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday headed for India to attend the Vibrant Gujarat Summit during which he will address investors to boost economic ties and meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a broad range of bilateral and global issues, including climate change.

"The Secretary would be emphasising the importance and future potential of our economic partnership with India, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

"Obviously the discussion would be on everything from continuing to do more economically and technologically, given that United States and India, we believe, can reach greater level of prosperity together than we would achieve alone," she said.

The three-day Vibrant Gujarat Summit will begin on Sunday in Ahmedabad.

"He would also be reiterating throughout the trip, our shared commitment to address the challenge of climate change, promoting clean energy in the future. Prime Minister Modi has a strong track record in this regard," she said, adding that the Obama administration sees this trip as a pivotal point in India-US relationship.

After a brief stopover in Munich to meet the Sultan of Oman, Kerry leading a high-level US delegation is scheduled to arrive in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

Soon after his arrival, he is expected to visit the Gandhi Ashram, meet members of the civil society and visit the Ford plant, which is expected to open shortly.

He would address the Vibrant Gujarat Summit and hold a round table with top Indian CEOs.

Kerry is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Modi on Monday and hold another round-table with American CEOs participating in the summit.

Referring to the multi-fold increase in bilateral trade in the last 10 years, which stands now at about USD 100 billion, Psaki said the summit is an opportunity to further the goal that US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Modi have talked about in terms of increasing trade five-fold to USD 500 billion.

"There is a real opportunity in terms of our economic partnership moving forward," she said, adding that Kerry's Ahmedabad trip would focus on economic issues, even though Kerry would continue to discuss a range of issues with India.

"This (Vibrant Gujarat) Summit, which the Prime Minister is hosting, is really an opportunity to highlight the economic and entrepreneurial relationship between the United States and India; not just the government to government level, but also between the business to business level," she said.

The presence of top CEOs from both India and the US would be an opportunity to showcase how the private sector continues to drive this relationship moving forward, she said.

The soon opening of the Ford Plant at Sanand, which Kerry is scheduled to visit on Sunday, she said, is a very significant upcoming event.

"This is a specific example of the commitment of the United States businesses to invest in India," she said.

Noting that Kerry's Ahmedabad trip comes just two weeks before the historic visit of US President to India to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, Psaki said economic growth and partnership would also be a focus of the trip.

"Certainly we continue to work with India on a range of strategic issues as well. So it just would not be economy, but that would be the primary focus," she said.

With Kerry personally focused on the key global challenge of climate change, Psaki said the Secretary of State believes that large countries like the US and India have responsibilities to lead on this issue.

"The United States and China are the world's worst emitters of the world, but certainly he would talk about the importance of (climate change) and how he feels that India can play a role," she said.

During the Modi-Kerry meeting, Psaki said she expects a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues to come up.

"We expect this to be a wide ranging conversation. Not just about bilateral issues, but also global issues," she said.

Kerry would also meet Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay on the sidelines of the summit.

"That is the first meeting at a cabinet-level with the prime minister of Bhutan," Psaki said.

Kerry's meeting with Bhutanese Prime Minister Tobgay will mark the first bilateral meeting between a US Secretary of State and a Bhutanese leader.

Previously, the highest ranking State Department official to engage with Bhutan was at the Undersecretary of State level.

The United States has a diplomatic relationship with Bhutan. But neither the US nor Bhutan have a permanent diplomatic mission in their respective countries. The US ambassador to India is accredited to Bhutan.

According to a senior State Department official the Bhutanese Prime Minister is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and "is quite keen to be able to provide additional opportunities for Bhutanese to be able to study in the United States."

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