Washington, DC – Testifying in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told US senators considering his nomination to be ambassador to India that “Few nations are more vital to the future of American security and prosperity than India.”
A Rhodes scholar who studied Hindi and Indian cultural and religious history in college, Garcetti recalls that when he graduated, US-India relations were under the shadow of the cold war, trade was limited, and there was no defense trade or military interoperability. Garcetti commended the bipartisan work of Congress in bringing about a strong US-India strategic partnership, and said if confirmed, he would work toward an ambitious economic partnership with India, reduce barriers to market access, bolster fair trade and create good jobs for the American middle class.
“India is situated in a tough neighborhood,” said Garcetti. “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, joint freedom of navigation patrols and military exercises (which I have participated in as a naval officer alongside my Indian counterparts), and sales of our best defense technologies in order to realize the full potential of our Major Defense Partnership.”
The question of India’s purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia was brought up in today’s hearing, with Ranking Member James Risch (R-ID) saying that “”We cannot ignore the reality of concerns over India’s defense relationship with Russia.” Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) also commented that New Delhi would need to address concerns about its treatment of minorities and purchase of Russian hardware if it wants to strengthen its partnership with the US.
Garcetti spoke of how, as Mayor, he chaired C40 –– a global network of mayors from the world’s largest cities –– to combat climate change and to share the experience of Los Angeles, which is on track to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. He promised that if confirmed, he would work with India to promote green energy through the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and through the Agenda 2030 Climate and Clean Energy Partnership. ISA is an alliance of 124 countries initiated by India, and the US joined as a member last month.
Garcetti gave a shout out to his parents, Gil and Sukey Garcetti, who were present at the hearing today, and who first took him to India as a teenager.
Garcetti is a veteran who served 12 years in the US Navy Reserve as an intelligence officer. He is currently in his second term as Mayor of Los Angeles.