New Delhi: US Secretary John Kerry made a strong pitch for India and the US cooperating in clean energy and said the US is keen on implementing the Indo-US civil nuclear deal "as soon as possible". Describing India as a nation that would soon become the most populous and the third largest economy in the world, Kerry touched on defence cooperation, India-Pakistan relations, on Afghanistan, the contributions of the Indian American community and also on the Delhi gang-rape victim and the street protests in his over 40-minute speech at the India Habitat Centre.
He described India as an "ever changing place" and that both sides have to move together with the current.
Beginning his address on US-India Strategic Partnership with a "Namastey", Kerry also offered condolences for the Uttarakhand flood devastation deaths and said it was a pointer to how climate change could affect the world.
He said India should tap the new clean energy market worth $6 billion which would also help create new jobs.
He made a forceful pitch for India and Pakistan to boost economic ties and said it could be the harbinger of a "new era of ties" between the neighbours and help bring in "a level of trust".
Kerry, who arrived earlier in the day on a three-day visit, said he welcomed the increase of "21 per cent" in India-Pakistan trade.
He said if India and Pakistan can "confidently invest in each other than the rest of the world will more confidently invest in you".
On the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, he said the US "looks forward" to realising its implementation "as soon as possible".
"That agreement demonstrates our mutual confidence of our strategic partnership", he said, and added that "We look forward to realising its full implementation as soon as possible" including in the efforts of Westinghouse to construct nuclear power plants in India.
Kerry also reiterated that the US backs India's inclusion as a permanent member of a reformed and expanded UN Security Council and as a member of the four multilateral export control regimes (the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Australia Group, and Wassenaar Arrangement).
A day before his meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on the Indo-US strategic dialogue, he said the US is looking for "co-production and co-development in defence systems".
He said India will "soon have more C-17s" Globemaster aircraft than any country in the world, even more than the US itself.
Elaborating on India's role in its security vision for the Asian region, he said "India is a key part of the US rebalance in Asia and we are committed to that rebalance".
He said that India-US security interests are based on "a wide range of maritime and broader regional issues" and the US "values India's role in our mutual efforts to ensure a stable and prosperous Asia".
Praising India's constructive role in Afghanistan, Kerry suggested that India could also paly a crucial role in the Afghan 2014 elections.
"India can play a critical role in supporting these elections," he said, adding that New Delhi could help "Afghanistan in improving the electoral system in creating a credible and independent framework for resolving disputes".
He also sought to clear the air on proposed talks with the Taliban, which India has stressed should be "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned".
Kerry said: "Let me be clear, any political settlement has to be on the Taliban breaking ties with the Al Qaeda, renouncing violence and accepting the Afghan constitution, including its protection for all Afghan woman and men."
He said that Afghanistan "cannot again become a safe haven for international terrorism" and the US is committed to countering terrorism in that country where the US-led forces are set to drawdown next year.
India has said that it has "reservations" about the Taliban and it would support "an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned" peace initiative.
He mentoned Nirbhaya, the Delhi gang-rape victim, and the massive protests against her brutal rape, in his speech.
He said women and men should strive as equals. And when "inequalities or violence seeks to stamp out equality as with the tragic death of Nirbhaya, whose memory I was proud to honour at the State Department recently; We must all stand up and say 'No', just as so many did in New Delhi by demanding justice."
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