America and India: Embracing an Age of Ambition
MICHAEL R. POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE
NEW DELHI, INDIA
JUNE 26, 2019
AMBASSADOR JUSTER: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. As the United States ambassador to India, I have the distinct privilege of introducing our speaker tonight, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Secretary Pompeo’s career has combined service in the public and private sectors in a manner that makes him uniquely qualified to address many of the important challenges in today’s world and in the U.S.-India relationship. After graduating first in his class at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Secretary Pompeo served for five years in the U.S. Army. He then went to the Harvard Law School and following graduation, worked at one of the top law firms in the country.
From there, he became an entrepreneur and businessman, managing companies in the aerospace and energy sectors for a dozen years. Secretary Pompeo then returned to public service, successfully running for four consecutive terms as the U.S. representative from the 4th Congressional District of the state of Kansas.
In January 2017, President Trump nominated Congressman Pompeo to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. And in March 2019, President Trump nominated him to be the Secretary of State.
So Secretary Pompeo has experience in the military, in the Intelligence Community, as a grassroots politician, as an entrepreneur and businessman in two key sectors of the economy, and as a lawyer who can combine all of that with persuasive analysis and communication. It’s great to have him back in New Delhi. Please join me in welcoming the 70th Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. (Applause.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good evening, everyone. Welcome, and thank you for joining me here. Namaste.
Thank you, Ambassador Juster, too, for that kind introduction. Ken and I have been talking about my return here to New Delhi for quite some time, since I was last here back in September, and I’m glad we were able to make it happen shortly after your great election.
I want to recognize some special people who are here as well: The Indian Ambassador to the United States, Harsh Shringla, and many other members of the Indian diplomatic corps in the audience. I’m honored to be in your presence here today. Thank you for joining us.
I’m also excited to be at the India International Centre. There’s no better symbol of our two countries’ cooperation than an institution fathered by an American and a future president of India. I just wish I could stay tonight to enjoy some thali. I hear it’s great.
Many of you may not know this, but I had the chance to come here a number of times on business. I was able to bring my wife Susan here with a number – on a number of the trips. She and I had the opportunity to visit Bangalore and Chennai and Hyderabad. It’s many years ago. It was when I ran a small business that made airplane parts. We were struck on that visit – such entrepreneurship, such energy, great people, and enormous expectations for a brighter future for this country.
We had a wonderful time when we visited. We had terrific hosts. It’s an experience that many Americans have had when they travel here for business, for pleasure, or for yoga. There’s just something easy about the exchange between Americans and Indians.
Yet as I said in a speech just a few weeks back in Washington, it took our two nations decades to realize just how far this friendship could go and just how much we could work together.
But in fact, someone did see what was possible. One of India’s eminent thinkers, K. Subrahmanyam, co-wrote an essay – this was back in 1995 – and it began with these lines:
“It is widely understood that the United States is important to India. It is less well understood how important India is to the long-term interests of the United States of America.”
I want you all today to know that I understand that, and that America understands that.
I just had a great opportunity. I finished an excellent set of meetings with Prime Minister Modi, Minister Jaishankar, and other officials. We didn’t just talk about bilateral relations, the relationship between our two countries, although we spent a fair amount of time talking on that important topic.
We also talked about what I’ll call a new age of ambition, the new age of ambition for our two proud nations.
We shouldn’t see each other only through the narrow, bilateral lens, and I want to talk about that tonight.
We each, India and the United States, should see the world as it is, and see each other for what we are: great democracies, global powers, and good friends.
We have the ability to forge a new kind of cooperation that won’t just be good for us, but for the region, and indeed for the entire world.
That’s what I told your leaders this afternoon. And it’s my pleasure to share this vision with you here this evening.
Look, we start from a good place – a very good place. We are blessed that U.S.-India friendship is rooted in a solid foundation. The rule of law. Respect for human dignity. The importance of civil society. These ideals, they allow people to flourish. The Indian people believe in them. And Americans believe in them as well.
We share common historical threads upon which to build. We both struggled for independence. We both wrote constitutions that begin with the words “We the People.” And we both protect unalienable rights.
When President Eisenhower, a great Kansan – my home state – when President Eisenhower visited India in 1959, he said, quote: “Between the first largest democracy on earth, India, and the second largest, America, lie 10,000 miles of land and ocean. But in our fundamental ideas and convictions about democracy, we are very close neighbors.” And we ought to be even closer, end of quote.
I certainly agree with President Eisenhower.
Look, you just proved enormously your commitment to democracy last month in the largest democratic exercise in the world’s history. It was an example for the region. Imagine – imagine if every nation had the vigorous debates and voice that the Indian people just had the opportunity to express.
And yet in spite of all this, there’s a nagging misconception that our countries are not able to be full partners – the distrust of an earlier era, I think, still lingers.
But that’s not true. Just look at what’s already happened.
You’ve made hard choices to cut off oil imports from Iran, and move away from purchasing Venezuelan oil. We know these decisions weren’t without cost.
We’re doing everything we can to ensure you have adequate crude imports. We appreciate your help in pushing these regimes to behave like normal countries, and the Venezuelans to take care of their people.
You supported the global campaign of pressure and diplomacy with North Korea, to encourage Chairman Kim to go back to the bargaining table, and ultimately, to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
You’ve joined America, too, for regular meetings between our top defense and diplomatic leaders.
Your navy recently joined ours, alongside those of Japan and the Philippines, for a group sail for the first time in the South China Sea. There, we were able to reinforce our partnership and the freedom of navigation throughout international waterways.
Recently, too, India voted against giving the United Nations observer status to a Palestinian NGO tied to terror group Hamas, because rewarding terror groups is just wrong. Both India and America know that.
You’ve contributed, too, $3 billion in fact, in assistance to Afghanistan, where we’ll keep working to achieve a better future for the Afghan people, and we will make sure the country never again becomes a hive for terrorist evil.
You’ve collaborated – you’ve collaborated with USAID, our aid institution inside the Department of State, on economic development that ranges from training farmers in Kenya, to helping women find employment in Afghanistan, to helping Nepal meet its energy needs.
Your army instructors joined ours earlier just this month here in New Delhi to train African peacekeepers so they can better defend themselves.
India more and more is standing on the world stage, and we welcome your assertiveness, because it’s good for the world. It’s why we have for years supported your permanent seat on the UN Security Council. We’ve seen what’s possible when we work together for the common good all around the world.
I think, too, it’s the moment to think in a different way, to think even bigger. It’s time for a more ambitious age.
Let’s start with counterterrorism. Just a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Modi called for all nations to band together to fight terrorism, a message that aligns with what President Trump told the world leaders two years ago in Riyadh, on his first international visit. We were pleased to see the United Nations Sanctions Committee designate Masood Azhar last month. And from Kandahar to Sri Lanka and beyond, this fight will continue. Our work together must continue. Can we work even more closely to thwart terrorism that afflicts South Central Asia?
Then there’s our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region – a vision which we arrived at independently, but which today we pursue together. We both seek to uphold national sovereignty, the rule of law, transparency, good government, and basic freedoms. And we look forward to working with you in the western Indian Ocean, alongside countries such as France. Later this year, for the first time ever, the U.S. military will participate in a tri-service exercise with their Indian counterparts. We respect your sovereignty, and seek a true partnership. Can we have a more robust defense relationship grounded in interoperability, with common platforms, shared doctrines, and new technologies?
Today 60 percent of global maritime trade transits through the Indo-Pacific. In past weeks, the Islamic Republic of Iran has attacked tankers from Japan, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. In recent years, China has sought dominance in the South China Sea. Can America and India strategize more comprehensively on how to safeguard free and open seaways all throughout the world?
And on the economic front, just as we want our governments to instinctively turn to one another as partners, so we seek the same thing for our companies. Can we – can we help each other’s private industries disengage from countries with a weak rule of law and invest in partner nations eager to house our supply chains and our innovators?
India’s IT sector, it’s more than just a digital miracle – it’s a source of national pride. I know it; I can see it. Can we work together as partners, with partners such as Japan, to keep India’s networks – and the 5G networks of the future ‒ safe and reliable? I’m confident that we can. Can we come to an agreement that allows data to flow freely among countries so we don’t balkanize the Internet, make our companies less competitive, and impede economic growth? I am certain there is a way.
Look, India has a chance to contribute robustly in the energy security region as well. We want that to happen. Can we work together to provide clean energy for all of the Indian people? And can we help wean your industries off reliance on partners that don’t share our common, strategic set of interests?
One million Indian youth enter the job market every month. There are trillions of dollars in potential American investment sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be put to work in the Indo-Pacific region. The table of prosperity is set. Can India find a new appreciation for the economic freedom that complements political freedom? I know that we can do this together.
What about reducing trade barriers between our two great nations? I’m very confident – I’m very confident – that a solution can be found, one that will honor President Trump’s call for fair and reciprocal trade and benefit the citizens of India and the United States alike.
And speaking of the citizenry of our two countries, India is the birthplace of four major world religions. Let’s stand up, let’s stand up together in defense of religious freedom for all. Let’s speak out strongly together in favor of those rights, for whenever we do compromise those rights, the world is worse off.
And let’s keep, too, the people-to-people ties strong. More than half a million Indians have studied in the United States since the 1960s, and they’ve acquired knowledge that benefits India and the world. The very father of the Indian constitution, some of your most successful business leaders, and the 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry all earned degrees in the United States of America. We want young Indians of today to thrive, to thrive just in the same way each of those did.
Look, I’ll do my part to grow these ties. I’m personally committed to regular calls with Minister Jaishankar, to continue the conversations that we had today. It’s a step forward for our diplomacy, and everything I’ve discussed today. You have my word that we will continue to work hard on this.
I know too – I know we can go so far together, and we’ve already made great progress. We’re on the way there. We’ve made significant progress. But now I must say just after your election, it’s time that each of us deliver.
I often take my cues from someone that you don’t know. His names is Charles Vijendra Ghoorah. I call him Chuck. Chuck is a decades-long friend of mine. We worked together about 25 years ago. We’ve stayed close friends ever since.
He has three degrees. He is a wildly successful businessman, and his parents still give him a hard time because he didn’t become a doctor. Chuck represents the greatness of your nation. I’ve seen it.
And Chuck’s been good to me. He’s been good to Susan and I. He’s helped me understand India in ways that I might not otherwise have had the chance to do. I’ve always tried to be good to him too. And as you all know, I got a chance to return a favor back in 2016. I was a member of Congress when Prime Minister Modi came to Washington, D.C. and he spoke at our Congress on Capitol Hill. Few leaders around the world get a chance to do that. I very much wanted to the chance to hear – Chuck, but I knew how much it meant to Chuck to be there, and so I gave him my ticket. It was amazing. All he wanted was to be in the same room with this great leader who he knew could make things better for both the Indian people and the people of the United States of America.
I want you all to know that I share Chuck’s view that we can accomplish this. Right now we have an absolute perfect chance, a perfect chance to go even further than many have dreamed.
Right now we have two leaders in President Trump and Prime Minister Modi who aren’t afraid to blaze great trails and aren’t afraid to take risks where they’re appropriate.
Right now we’re poised to do truly incredible things for our own people, for the region, and for the world.
Let’s see each other with new eyes and embrace the age of ambition.
May God bless you. Hail India. And God bless the United States of America.
Thank you all for joining me tonight. (Applause.)