Eric Garcetti faces tough questions, vows to elevate partnership with India



Eric Garcetti, the US ambassador-designate to India, observing that India is in a “tough neighborhood”, told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Tuesday, Dec 14, that he would double-down on America’s efforts to strengthen India’s capacity to “secure its borders, defend its sovereignty and deter aggression”.

Garcetti, 50, Democratic and presently serving as Los Angeles Mayor was nominated by President Joe Biden for ambassador to India along with Donald Armin Blome for Pakistan and Amy Gutmann for Germany. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, headed by Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and composed of only a few Democrats and two Republicans, emphasized how Washington views India as a critical ally in its efforts to counter China’s growing political clout.

During his hearing, Garcetti told the committee, “Few nations are more vital to the future of American security and prosperity than India.” He further added, “If confirmed, I will endeavor to advance our ambitious bilateral partnership united by a free and open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.”

Garcetti informed the committee about his trips to India, beginning with a trip with his parents when he was a teenager and continuing in 1990 as a guest of Ambassador William Clark Jr., whose son was Garcetti’s college roommate. He stated his journey to India in the 1990s encouraged him to go to college and study Hindi and Urdu, as well as Indian and Cultural Religious History.

“Even with a pandemic, our bilateral trade this year is expected to break a record, and if confirmed, I intend to champion an ambitious economic partnership with India to reduce market barriers, bolster free trade and generate good, middle-class American jobs,” Garcetti mentioned. 

While not committing to imposing CAATSA or lifting sanctions on India in exchange for the S-400 missile system deal with Russia, Garcetti said he would advocate for India’s weapons program to continue diversifying (moving away from Russia) and raise the threat to US security systems if this did not happen. He would endeavor to expand the India-US Major Defense Partnership to this aim.

Garcetti is a political appointee who formerly worked as a co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign. He is known to be President Joe Biden’s close aide. The White House underlined Garcetti’s efforts in co-founding the nonpartisan “Climate Mayors” network and leading more than 400 US mayors to sign the Paris Climate Agreement when announcing his selection.

During his remarks, the Mayor of Los Angeles emphasized his experience combatting climate change in the city, which included putting the city on schedule to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2035. Garcetti stated that he will collaborate with India on a “similarly bold approach to promoting green energy.”