Kerry seeks to revive India ties after rift

Kerry seeks to revive India ties after rift

NEW DELHI - Agence France-Presse
Kerry seeks to revive India ties after rift

US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) speaks with guests before a dinner at the US ambassador’s house in Delhi, where he is paying a three-day visit. AFP Photo

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry July 31 opened his first meetings with India’s right-wing government as he seeks to reboot a relationship seen as a bulwark against a rising China.

Kerry’s visit to New Delhi comes after an unusually large number of disputes between the world’s largest democracies, including charges of U.S. surveillance against Indian politicians and a trade rift that could scuttle a global customs deal.

The top U.S. diplomat met Finance and Defense Minister Arun Jaitley, a key player in the new government, as part of an annual dialogue which was meant to be held in Washington but was shifted in light of the political transition in Delhi.

Kerry will meet on August 1 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist who was shunned by Washington until not long before his sweeping election victory in May.

Taking a break from intense Middle East diplomacy that has dominated his tenure, Kerry highlighted other issues close to his heart including the environment. He toured the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and spoke to students who are trying to make plastic biodegradable.,

“It’s very exciting. I wish you well with that. It would be a huge contribution to the world,” Kerry said.
The United States and India, at odds during the Cold War, began to reconcile in the late 1990s with leaders describing the world’s two largest democracies as natural allies.

Kerry is paying his first visit to India since the episode, which led New Delhi to take retaliatory action against U.S. diplomats.