Seeking to bring ebbing bilateral ties back on track, India and the US on Saturday discussed maritime security and expanding regional trade in the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor and beyond, administration officials said.
During the sixth session of the US-India East Asia Consultations, top US officials "conveyed their condolences" to the Indian delegation for the crew killed in Friday's crash of Indian Air Force's newly-acquired C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.
They noted that this is a sad reminder of the dangers India and the US service members face while protecting freedom and democracy, a state department spokesperson told PTI.
The US side comprised of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Daniel Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Desai Biswal, and Pacific Command Commander Admiral Samuel L Locklear.
The Indian delegation among others included Ambassador to the US, S Jaishankar, Joint Secretary (East Asia) Gautam Bambawale, and Joint Secretary (Americas) Vikram Doraiswami.
Later, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met Jaishankar to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues, and the Indian delegation met with Special Representative of the Secretary of State for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies, the state department spokesperson said.
"In all conversations both the US and India affirmed their intent to extend our cooperation in and with regional and multilateral institutions," the spokesperson said.
"The delegations exchanged views on a variety of issues including maritime security, combatting nuclear proliferation, and expanding regional trade opportunities in the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor and beyond," he said.
Earlier, state department deputy spokesperson, Marie Harf, said the US is working with India on a whole host of issues. "We are working with the Indian government bilaterally in a very businesslike, very close, consultative manner on a wide range of issues. So we've, quite frankly, moved the relationship past this incident. There's a process in place," she said while responding to questions on the recent bilateral spat over Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.
"In our minds, the drama that I think people have been trying to keep alive is, quite frankly, past us. First, obviously, we are paying attention to what's happening in India," she said.
"As we've said, it's up for the people of India to decide their future. We will work with whoever the people of India think should be their next leadership," Harf said. Disagreeing that the Indo-US relationship was strained by the Khobragade issue, Harf described this as a difficult incident.
"We would disagree that relations are strained today because of this. We know it was a difficult incident. We know there were difficult issues. "We believe we need to move the relationship past it. We believe the Indian government wants to do the same thing. And we are working together very closely, as I said, on a whole range of issues," Harf said.
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