March 13, 2013 – New Delhi – An AJC senior leadership delegation has concluded three days of high-level talks in India.
"India, a country of stunning diversity and complexity, faces vast challenges -- but offers abundant opportunities for partnership with the United States, as well as with its sister multi-ethnic democracy, Israel," said AJC President Robert Elman, who led the delegation.
The 10-member delegation met with senior government officials, opposition leaders, policy analysts, business leaders, top U.S., Israeli and European diplomats, and journalists. Conversations focused on common threats confronting India and the United States, growing and multi-faceted cooperation between India and Israel, and a shared commitment to strengthened political, strategic, economic and cultural ties between India and the U.S.
In the meetings, the AJC group praised India's increasing role in international affairs, and urged a continued reduction in Indian dependence on Iranian oil in accord with international sanctions against Tehran's illicit nuclear program and its campaign of global terror. The delegation expressed support for India's development of alternative energy sources, in particular the import of U.S. natural gas. It explored interfaith relations in India and shared AJC's long U.S. experience in fostering advocacy on common policy concerns with Indian Americans. And views were exchanged on regional security issues, including instability in Pakistan and the impact of coming U.S. and allied troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.
During the visit, Elman presented AJC’s Global Leadership Award to Lt Gen. (Ret.) J.F.R. Jacob, who served as a British Indian Army officer in World War II and later, after independence, was Chief of Staff of the Indian Army's Eastern Command in the war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. Elman saluted Jacob, the highest ranking military officer in the history of the country's Jewish community, as a "national treasure" of India and a "hero" of the Jewish people. In a distinguished career after retiring from the Army, Jacob served successive terms as Governor of the Indian states of Goa and Punjab.
Among Indian officials the delegation met were Salman Khurshid, the External Affairs Minister, Shivshankar Menon, the National Security Advisor, Foreign Secretary Rajnan Mathai, opposition party parliamentary leader Arun Jaitley and deputy party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, and Chairman Wajahat Habibullah of the National Commission on Minorities.
Accompanying the delegation was Jason Isaacson, AJC director of Government and International Affairs, and Patty Marcus, director of AJC’s Asia Pacific Institute.
"AJC's two decades of ongoing interaction with India are grounded in shared democratic values and mutual respect -- and, at a time of regional strategic transition, provide a basis for open exchanges on the most pressing and sensitive matters," said Isaacson.
Among the delegation's Delhi events was a reception for Indian alumni of AJC Project Interchange educational seminars in Israel.