Advancing Indo-US relationship of importance: Nisha Biswal

Washington: President Barack Obama's top diplomatic nominee for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal today told lawmakers that advancing the India-US strategic partnership will be of paramount importance for her if she is confirmed.
 
Asserting that India's growing economic power makes it a vital anchor for the vision of regional engagement as well as a cornerstone of America's strategic rebalance to Asia, Biswal said, "If I am confirmed by the Senate, advancing India-US Strategic Partnership will be of paramount importance." 
 
Noting that India and US relationship has broadened and deepened in the last decade, Desai told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said the two countries are already strong partners in combating terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
 
"India's growing economic power makes it a vital anchor for the vision of regional engagement as well as a cornerstone of America's strategic rebalance to Asia," Biswal told lawmakers during her confirmation hearing for the post of Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.
 
"If confirmed I will endeavour to strengthen and expand these efforts," she said in her testimony.
 
Identifying defence as one of the major areas of co-operation between the two countries, Biswal said the defence trade has increased from USD 300 million through 2008 to over USD 8 billion today.
 
Noting that the India-US trade has quintupled over the past ten years to almost USD 100 billion, she said it can and should be significantly higher and though there are challenges in the relationship New Delhi and Washington can work together and should work collaboratively to meet the significant economic potential of this vital relationship.
 
Introducing Biswal before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Congresswoman Nita Lowey said, the nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia has the substantive knowledge and personal skills to be incredibly successful in this challenging position.
 
If confirmed, Biswal, who is currently the Assistant Administrator for Asia at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), would be the first ever Indian American to be appointed as the Assistant Secretary of State in the State Department.
 
She would replace Robert Blake who has been nominated as the US Ambassador to Indonesia.