The US, in an apparent reference to the Devyani Khobragde issue, yesterday said such “challenges” should not be allowed to derail the future of its important relationship with India and the two countries needed to deal with differences in a constructive manner.
“Every meaningful partnership between powerful nations encounters setbacks. And, obviously, recent events have drawn more attention to our disagreements than to our cooperative efforts,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in an apparent reference to the issue of the arrest of the Indian diplomat which created tension between the two countries.
“But, those difficulties should be minor compared to the breadth of our relationship and the magnitude of what we can accomplish together,” she said in her address to the Aspen Institute US-India Dialogue being held in Washington.
“We must also deal with our differences in a constructive manner, commensurate with a relationship of this importance,” Rice said, reiterating the commitment of the Obama Administration to strengthen and deepen the bilateral relationship between the two largest democracies of the world.
Devyani, 39, was arrested on December 12, on visa fraud charges, strip-searched and held with criminals, triggering a row between the two countries with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps.
She was indicted on visa fraud and making false statements by a US grand jury. She returned to India after she was asked to leave the US by the State Department.
“The relationship between India and the United States can and should be, as President Obama has said many times, 'one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century' and, as I've experienced firsthand, it can also be one of our most productive partnerships,” she said.
Given the hard work done by the governments of the two countries in the last two decades, Rice exuded confidence that the India-US relationship would continue to grow irrespective of the outcome of the upcoming elections.
“Lets build on the important steps we've already taken, such as: working together in the UN Human Rights Council to advance reconciliation in Sri Lanka; supporting elections in third countries; and helping found the UN Democracy Fund,” Rice said.