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Watching President Barack Obama’s re-election last night was inspiring, and in some ways reminiscent of his historic win four years ago to become the 44th President of the United States. The closely fought contest brought to the fore strengths of a political system based on popular will that binds India and the United States – the world’s largest and the oldest democracies.

What will President Obama’s re-election mean for India-U.S. relations?

The President and the Prime Minister of India sent warm, congratulatory messages to the U.S. President immediately after the elections results were announced. In his message, President Pranab Mukherjee emphasised the shared values and interests between India and the United States, and expressed confidence in the continued progress in our strategic partnership.

In his congratulatory message, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh noted, “Over the last four years, consistent with our vision of a global strategic partnership between India and the United States, … we have not only advanced cooperation across the full spectrum of our bilateral relationship, but also deepened our engagement in the pursuit of global peace, stability and prosperity. … I have  no doubt that there is much more we can do together to further strengthen the India-U.S. partnership and thereby advance peace and stability, expand mutual economic opportunities, harness the potential of science and technology, innovation and higher education and empower our people to address global challenges.”    I believe that the leadership that both Prime Minister Singh and President Obama have imparted over the last four years, has moved India-U.S. strategic partnership from a ‘consolidation’ phase into one of comprehensive and multifaceted engagement.

Prime Minister Singh was invited by President Obama in November 2009 to be the first State guest of his Presidency. President Obama’s own landmark visit to India in November 2010, the first by a U.S. President in his first term, paved the way for many accomplishments in our relationship. I am constantly impressed by the fact that a silent revolution is taking place in the way India and the U.S. engage with each other. The depth and expanse of their mutually rewarding partnership, and the stakes both countries have built in each other’s success are unprecedented today.  Strong people-to-people exchanges and sterling contributions by the Indian American community are constantly enriching this engagement.

Our trade and economic partnership and collaboration in innovation are new sources of strength to our engagement. Our deepening cooperation in education, energy, health, agriculture and science and technology now touches the lives of millions in both our countries. People, as I have always said, are at the pulsating heart of this relationship.

Our strategic partnership today is rich in content, comfort and candour.  It also has an ever-increasing global relevance, making a difference beyond our shores, from Afghanistan to Africa.   There is increasing convergence in our foreign policy priorities. We have shared approaches to some of the most complex regional and global challenges of our times.

Our defence partnership, including defense trade, has been strengthened, just as our cooperation in counter-terrorism and other strategic pursuits, including maritime and cyber security.  The Obama Administration’s commitment to India’s membership of the multilateral export control regimes, as well as President Obama’s support for India’s permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council, has indeed been encouraging to us. We remain committed to bring our civilian nuclear cooperation to tangible fruition.

There is a rich and textured agenda ahead of us. The shared vision of Prime Minister Singh and President Obama will continue to guide our close relationship to an even deeper and more rewarding engagement, even as it derives strong support from across the political spectrum in both our countries.

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