Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, US President Joe Biden’s nominee for ambassador to New Delhi, said on Tuesday, 14 December, that he intends to double-down on Washington's efforts to strengthen India’s capacity to secure its borders.
“If confirmed, I intend to double-down on our efforts to strengthen India’s capacity to secure its borders, defend its sovereignty, and deter aggression – through information sharing, counterterrorism coordination," Garcetti was quoted as saying by news agency ANI while answering lawmakers during his confirmation hearing.
Garcetti said that at the same time, he will raise the issue of Indian purchases of Russian arms, including the recent purchase of S-400 missile defence systems.
50-year-old Garcetti appeared before a US senate committee for confirmation on Tuesday, along with ambassador-designates Donald Armin Blome for Pakistan, and Amy Gutmann for Germany.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat lawmaker from New Jersey, stressed on how India is seen as a key partner in its effort to push back against China.
Meanwhile, praising the progress made in the US-India relationship since 1992, Garcetti was quoted as saying, “the year I graduated from college after studying Hindi and Indian cultural and religious history”, and now - the annual trade currently stands at nearly $145 billion compared to $2 billion then and defence trade which was zero, stood at $20 billion in 2020.
The US senate committee also sought to task Garcetti with India’s “democratic backsliding”, human rights, and questions about the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Responding to the committee, Garcetti said, “There’s no question that the US-India relationship should be underpinned by our common commitment to democracy, to human rights and to civil society (as enshrined) in our constitutions, both the oldest democracy in the world and the largest democracy in the world”, ANI reported.
He further emphasised, “human rights, defence of democracy is a pillar of our foreign policy but to answer specifically, if confirmed, I will actively raise these issues or raise them with humility. It’s a two-way street on these, but I intend to engage directly with civil society.”
(With inputs from ANI.)