At a farewell gala held Dec. 13, for the outgoing Indian Ambassador to India Navtej Sarna, diplomats from both countries praised the Trump administration and the state of bilateral relations.
In an extraordinary move and to showcase the strength of the ties that bind the two countries, the farewell was hosted by the State Department at Blair House, opposite the White House, a residence reserved for heads of state during visits to this country.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells told the gathering President Trump calls India a “true friend,” and pointed to the two years during which the “Indo-Pacific” region was renamed, And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “has characterized the U.S.-India bilateral relationship as one deeply bound by our shared values,” Wells is quoted saying in news reports, at the event attended by top White House and State Department officials.
Sarna, who took over as Ambassador November 2016, ends an illustrious 38-year foreign service career with his posting in Washington.
Both Wells and Sarna dwelt on the accomplishments of the past two years, the highlight of which was the state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi; as well as the inauguration of the new 2+2 Dialogue on security and strategic priorities
“Under your leadership in our countries have negotiated and finalized a landmark communications compatibility and security agreement, which makes our military cooperation more profound and advanced. We have also taken significant steps to build on India’s status as a US major defense partner, including elevating India to strategic trade authorization, tier one status,” Wells is quoted saying in a Financial Express news report. She also praised Sarna for engaging the 3-million strong Indian-American community in the U.S., to strengthen relations.
Sarna noted that the “personal chemistry” between Modi and President Donald Trump “were so strong” and “so, so evident,” resulting in the joint statement which would set the chart for bilateral relations in coming months
“We have found a huge amount of understanding for our political space, for our strategic autonomy, for the needs of our economy, for our role, for our taking into account our art history and our regional position vis a vis several other countries,” Sarna is quoted saying, adding that the two countries had found ways to serve their own national interests and still grow the relationship.