''Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, there have been some historic milestones. We saw Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi’s landmark visit to the US in September for the in-person leader-level Summit with President (Joe) Biden, and the first in-person Quad Summit,'' Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu said in his address to the 5th edition of the India-US Forum on Thursday.
This was preceded by the first ever leader-level Quad Virtual Summit, in March. The joint statements issued, after each of these summits, captured the depth and breadth of this bilateral engagement, he said.
In 2021, Sandhu said the US administration, Congress, industry, diaspora, and the American people at large came out to support India, when the COVID-19 second wave hit India in the summer. President Biden spoke to Prime Minister Modi, underlining that the US stands shoulder to shoulder with India, and recalled how India supported the US when the surge happened in the US last year.
''The overwhelming support received by us, from all across the US is a testament to close bonds that we share. Just before the second wave hit India, India had supplied vaccines to more than 90 countries across the globe, and it was touching to see our friends, and partners such as the United States, reciprocate the warmth to India in equal measure, in the hour of need,” Sandhu said.
Also, the pandemic did not stop the two countries from going ahead with intense engagement. Prime Minister Modi participated in several Summits, hosted by President Biden - the virtual Leaders’ Summit on Climate, in April; virtual Covid Summit in September; Global Supply Chain Summit, on the sidelines of G-20, in October in Rome; Summit on Build Back Better for the World on the sidelines of COP26, in Glasgow in November, he said.
''There have been several ministerial-level engagements: the Secretary of State and the External Affairs Minister have met on a regular basis. The Secretary of Defense, visited India in March, as part of his first overseas tour. The Finance Minister visited the US in October. The USTR was recently in Delhi for the Trade Policy Forum, and the visit was an opportunity for a broader conversation on the economic partnership between the two countries,” he added.
''Congressional delegations have visited India recently. The Foreign Secretary was here in September. There have been several senior official level meetings, advancing the bilateral agenda in various fields, including in defence, health, counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, economic and financial partnership, financial regulation, strategic areas, etc,'' Sandhu said.
According to Sandhu, the two countries launched new projects. India-US Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 partnership, was launched at the Climate Summit in April, by the Prime Minister and President Biden.
''We saw the US joining the International Solar Alliance. There is also the I-2 U-2 initiative, which was launched: India-Israel; US- UAE Ministerial dialogue. We saw some new initiatives under Quad, as well in areas of space, cybersecurity, high-standards infrastructure and education,'' he said.
“We again proved that India-US relations are people-centric and people-driven. Be it the 'Vande Bharat Mission', or support to Indian students during lockdowns, or the support for each other, during Covid surges, people set the benchmark. Their aspirations remain our guide, and as governments, we make all efforts to live up to their expectations,” Sandhu said. HDA