Rejecting reports that the Indo-US dialogue was aimed at countering China, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Secretary of State John Kerry today said the Communist giant did not even figure in bilateral discussions.
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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State John Kerry during India-US Strategic & Commercial Dialogue at the US State Depertment in Washington DC on Tuesday. Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Power Minister Piyush Goyal are also seen. (Photo: PTI)[/caption]
"China did not even figure in our conversation," Swaraj told reporters at a joint news conference with Kerry, US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Commerce Minister
Swaraj noted that this is a bilateral dialogue between India and the US.
"This is a dialogue to deepen and strengthen our bilateral cooperation, our bilateral ties and this dialogue has not been charted to create wider influence in any part of the world or China," she said.
Kerry, in response to a question, "this meeting has nothing to do with China. We made no mention of China in this conversation."
"This is about US-India relationship, two great democracies- the oldest and the largest- that have come together, brought together by common values about freedom and opportunity, innovation, the ability of people to make choices in their life and to do as well as they can," he said.
There is no message to China here intended other than the sort of normal commerce and cooperation that goes on in the world by countries of like mind that want to create a better
relationship without regard to geopolitics and chess moves on the political stage, Kerry said.
"This is about a country that has millions of people still living in poverty, a country of great innovative capacity that wants to provide for its people and grow effectively and we see in our common relationship very important common goals," the top American diplomat said.
India-US ties is also about mutual security interests, he said.
"And I suppose tangentially you could argue that because we are in common accord with respect to the South China Sea and rule of law, that that is a message to China," Kerry said.
"But it's really a message to everybody, to all countries, that freedom of navigation and rule of law are the standard that we've been working for and towards in concert with the global community under the United Nations and otherwise ever since the end of the last world war and with a great commitment to try to end conflicts between states," he said.
Talking about non-state actors presenting the greatest challenge, Kerry said, "so that's what we're talking about, and we welcome China at the table to discuss with us, and we will be discussing with China in the next days in President Xi's visit here in Washington and in New York at the United Nations General Assembly."