The United States and India: A vital partnership

Sushma Swaraj and Rex Tillerson shaking hands (State Dept.)
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in September. (State Dept.)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the strong and growing ties between the United States and India hold the key to peace and prosperity in the entire region stretching from the Indian Ocean across the Pacific.

“It is vital that the Indo-Pacific region … continue to be free and open,” Tillerson said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington.

Tillerson said the Trump administration is determined to improve the partnership, from ensuring India’s defense capabilities to coordinating counterterrorism efforts. He said his upcoming trip to New Delhi “could not come at a more promising time for U.S.-Indian relations.”

He called the United States and India “two bookends of stability on either side of the globe, standing for greater security and prosperity for our citizens and people around the world.”

“The emerging Delhi-Washington strategic partnership stands upon a shared commitment upholding the rule of law, freedom of navigation, universal values and free trade.” ~Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

The challenges the countries face include North Korea’s nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missiles that threaten not only the U.S. and its Asian allies but all other nations, according to the secretary.

In a period of global uncertainty, “India needs a reliable partner on the world stage,” Tillerson said. “The United States is that partner.”

“We need to collaborate with India to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is increasingly a place of peace, stability and growing prosperity so that it does not become a region of disorder, conflict and predatory economics,” he said.

As evidence of the robust economic ties, Tillerson cited:

  • The record $115 billion in bilateral trade, a figure “that we plan to increase.”
  • More than 600 U.S. companies operating in India.
  • 166,000 Indian students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities.
  • 1.2 million American visitors to India annually.

The U.S. and India are co-hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, India, November 28–30. “No two countries encourage innovation better,” Tillerson said.