WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden’s nominee for next envoy to New Delhi has declared human rights would be a core issue for him when he becomes ambassador.
Eric Michael Garcetti (50) is currently serving as the mayor of Los Angeles and is a personal confidant of Biden. At his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Garcetti assured lawmakers that he would personally be talking to various stakeholders in India on the issue of human rights.
“I would not only just bring it up, but it would not be something at the end as an obligation. It will be a core piece of what I’ll be engaging my Indian counterparts… with,” he said.
“There’s no question that the US India relationship should be underpinned by our common commitment to democracy, human rights and to civil society… If confirmed, I will actively raise these issues. I’ll raise them with humility. It’s a two-way street on these, but I intend to engage directly with civil society,” he said.
“There are groups that are actively fighting for the human rights of people on the ground in India that will get direct engagement from me. We know that democracies are complicated and we can look at our own and at India’s, but it’s a cornerstone of our shared values,” Garcetti said.
Garcetti said that he fully supports the law of the land, the implementation of CAATSA and part of that is the waiver provision.
He was responding to a question on enforcement of CAATSA sanctions on India now that New Delhi has started receiving delivery of the S-400 missile system from Russia.
“I don’t want to prejudge the secretary’s decision about sanctions or a waiver. And I do want to tell the chairman, ranking member (and) all the members (of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee). I do fully support the law of the land, the implementation of CAATSA as law here and part of that is the waiver provision,” Garcetti said.
The Los Angeles mayor said, if confirmed, he would advocate the continued diversification of India’s weapons systems.
“I think it [defence exports to India] is one of the great success stories of the last few decades from zero to $20 billion in procurement, the intelligence sharing that we have, the interoperability, the exercises, the maritime work that we’re doing,” he said.
Having concluded four major defence-enabling agreements since 2016, the US and India have made significant progress as Major Defence Partners and the US looks forward to further increasing information sharing, bilateral and multilateral exercises, maritime security cooperation, liaison officer exchanges and logistical cooperation.