(Reuters) – America’s top diplomat and the head of its Defense Department will visit India in coming weeks seeking to revitalize a relationship the United States sees as a crucial counterbalance in Asia to an increasingly assertive China.
Secretary of State John Kerry will represent the United States in an annual session of Strategic Dialogue with India scheduled for July 31, and he will be followed to New Delhi by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in early August, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
They will be the most senior U.S. officials to visit India for talks with the new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his May election. Modi is expected to visit the United States in September.
In testimony for a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Nisha Biswal, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for South Asia, noted that President Barack Obama had said the U.S.-India relationship would be “one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.”
She also said Modi had told U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns in India last week that the world would benefit from closer U.S.-India ties.