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US is excited to witness India's G20 presidency: Consul General Melinda Pavek Indo-Pacific Conclave
Avishek Mitra/IBNS

US is excited to witness India's G20 presidency: Consul General Melinda Pavek

By Supriyo Hazra | @indiablooms | 22 Nov 2022, 09:26 am

Kolkata: US Consul General Melinda Pavek on Monday said the US, along with the world, is excited to witness India’s G20 presidency as it takes over from Indonesia officially on Dec 1.

"The G20 role will open new opportunities for multilateral global engagements, with a focus on sustainable growth and inclusive development," she said while addressing an Indo-Pacific Conclave in Kolkata organised by the US Consulate General of Kolkata and Asian Confluence, a think tank.

India will assume the Presidency of the G20 for one year from Dec 1, 2022 to Nov 30, 2023. It was handed over to India as the Bali summit of the grouping ended last week.

Under its Presidency, India is expected to host over 200 G20 meetings across the country, beginning December 2022.

The G20 Leaders' Summit at the level of Heads of State / Government is scheduled to be held on Sept 9 and 10, 2023 in New Delhi.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President of USA Joseph R. Biden on the margins of G-20 Leaders’ Summit in Bali held last week when the two leaders reviewed the continuing deepening of relationship between India and USA.

"The United States is a proud Indo-Pacific nation.  We have maintained and continue to strengthen our long-term commitment to an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, interconnected, prosperous, resilient, and secure.  Our commitment is to every corner of the region, from Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia to South Asia, Oceania and the Pacific Islands," Pavek said.

She said the Indo-Pacific enjoys unprecedented economic ties and represents the world’s biggest producers of goods and largest trade markets.

"More than 50 percent of global GDP is now generated by the Indo-Pacific," the US official said.

Speaking on Quad, Pavek said the United States, India, Japan, and Australia have been collaborating on developing policy and action-oriented approaches within the 'Quad framework' of functional cooperation across diverse sectors.

"The shared Quad vision for the Indo-Pacific is one of a free, open, more resilient, more prosperous, better interconnected, and more secure region," she said.

She later participated in a panel and highlighted the issue of 'cultural diplomacy'.

"Diplomacy is all about connection between government and even people," she said.

"As diplomats, we make connections with people first," she said.

Speaking about the Northeastern region of India, she said: "Geographically, the Northeastern part of India acts as an important connection point."

"We are trying to rebuild the historical connection of the region which may include inland waterways infrastructure development system or by rekindling the supply chain management system which once used to exist," she said.

"We also try to raise awareness on trafficking and other issues," she said.

She said she feels it is her responsibility to make people aware about the 'incredible cultural diversity' of Northeast India.

"Many people in the US do not know about the Northeastern part of India. In fact, I have also seen many Indians who do not know about the cultural diversity of the region. So, I feel one of my major roles is to make people aware about the cultural diversity of the area," she said.

During the discussion, Daniel Sim, Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Consulate General Kolkata, highlighted how “half of all Australians have overseas roots” and how that influences the Australian foreign policy in so far that it is very much oriented towards “expanding pre-existing prosperous ties” with the people in the Indo-Pacific region.

He said India and Australia see each other as 'valuable partners' in the Indo-Pacific.

The India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was initiated during the India-Australia Leaders’ Virtual Summit held between Indian PM Narendra Modi and former Australian PM Scott Morrison MP, on June 4, 2020.

"India for the past several years is becoming a strong partner for Australia," he said.

The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) was signed on Apr 2, 2022 by Australia’s then Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan and India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food, and Public Distribution and Textiles of India Piyush Goyal.

Speaking on it, he said: "It shows the increasing trust between two countries and our natural economies."

Nakagawa Koichi, Consul General of Japan in Kolkata, stressed the “importance of language as they key enabler for people-to-people connect in the Indo-Pacific region,” because people, he said, are the most important link to connect the Indo-Pacific, in terms of economy, ecology and security aspects.

Minakshi Mishra, Regional Director, ICCR, Kolkata, said that “culture connects, much like how the oceans and waters connect the land and continents, and hence is extremely key, in envisioning a connected Indo-Pacific.”

She added how ICCR has continued to forge cultural ties through artistic and cultural exchanges over the years and will continue to do so in the days ahead. 

The U.S. Consulate General Kolkata and Asian Confluence think tank are organizing the two-day, unique Indo-Pacific Conclave on the theme of “Reimagine and Reconnect: Indo-Pacific synergies through the lens of Culture,” in Kolkata, India, on Nov 21-22.

Over the course of these two days, the conclave will see participation of more than 40 speakers and over 75 artists, performers and musicians from across more than 10 countries of the Indo-Pacific, including the United States, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and India.

This includes ambassador Riva Ganguly, former Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, Shahidul Haque, former Foreign Secretary, Government of Bangladesh, ambassador Sumith Nakandala, former Secretary General, BIMSTEC Secretariat, among others.

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