Eric Garcetti, Ambassador of the United States of America to India, while officially inaugurating the US Consulate General in Hyderabad on Friday evening at a gala celebration, said this was a great phase for the further strengthening of the Indo-US strategic friendship.

"Ours is not a transactional relationship. It covers all areas – planet, people, prosperity and peace," he said, sharing stage with Telangana state Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, US Consul General Jennifer Larson and Dr Ausaf Sayeed of the ministry of external affairs.

The evening, in which several prominent people of the city joined to also celebrate the 247th anniversary of American Independence, had Ambassador Garcetti, on his first official visit to Hyderabad since assuming his duties as the top US diplomat in India, meeting and greeting all guests in person.

"President Joe Biden is fond of saying – don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I will tell you how much you value it," he said. "By that standard, it should be clear to all of us how deeply the United States values Hyderabad and this region. We opened this $340 million facility because Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are writing one of the most important chapters of the US-India Strategic Partnership."

Speaking on the occasion, Governor Soundararajan said, "the US is opening this wonderful new facilty, with such great architecture and such a warm cordial place, which feels like a second home. If this amazing facility is being inaugurated in May (and we Indians hold griha pravesh as very auspicious and significant), 

Prime Minister Modi is visiting the US on a state-visit in June and there is American Independence in July. The three reasons to celebrate form a triad, a shakti, which will further empower our relationship."

US Consul General Jennifer Larson, who described herself as one of the biggest champions and supporters of the Indo-US relationship, said the US accorded highest importance to the partnership with India, which includes people-to-people contacts. "We will accord highest importance to giving students and other visas. We have more desks than people… so we will grow further."

Dr Ausaf Sayeed of the MEA, jocularly said that while extending the good wishes from the minister of external affairs Dr S. Jaishankar to the US for their new facility, with capability to process more visas, India had already given more than 10 million additional new passports. On a more serious note, he pointed out that as a Hyderabadi, he was delighted that the US state of Illinois had a sister state partnership with Telangana.

"We often read history, learn about history. But today, we are witnessing history in this inaugural. We are adding a crucial chapter to a larger story… of the India, America friendship," he said to great cheer from the audience.

Speaking at a press conference earlier in the day, Ambassador Eric

Garcetti said the US-India strategic partnership had strengthened since 2014 and that new avenues were opening up to further strengthen the ties between both the countries.

Garcetti, who is on a three day visit to Hyderabad, addressed the media at T-Hub, where he spoke about culture, trade, education, emerging technologies in India and how the world was looking ahead to the India-US friendship.

 "The US-India strategic partnership has grown deeper and stronger. Today the US is the largest trading partner of India. Last year, India and the US had a bilateral trade of $191 billion bilateral trade. With the four Ps of Peace, Prosperity, Planet, and People we owe it together so that people can be safe, our planet be protected, prosperity be pursued and peace can be ensured. The entire globe is counting on the India-US friendship. This is the moment to dream big, think big, and act big. Let’s move forward and let’s move ahead", said the US ambassador.

Garcetti said that slots will be increased for students for the I-20 process for going to the US universities, in June, July and August and that the US had processed more than five lakh visa applications in all the categories till date this year and the target was to achieve one million target by the end of the year.

The ambassador recalled his first visit to India in 1985 and said that so much had changed in the country but the warmth of the people had remained the same. He also went on to say that Indians knew the US and the people there very well and that now it was time that Americans got to know more about India and to bring more Americans to India, as he appreciated the creative power and the entrepreneurial spirit of India.

Garcetti spoke about the rich culture of the country as well as the Telangana region and appreciated the work of the Tollywood industry to take India to a global face by creating songs like Naatu, Naatu; which brought accolades to the country through creative and cultural work.

Garcetti stressed the need to address the climate change issue, citing his meeting with a woman construction labourer in Ahmedabad as he said that climate change was a crisis of today and tomorrow and that it was important to take steps towards a better present for the sake of the future of the next generations.

Ambassador Garcetti began his trip to Hyderabad with a visit to the historic Chowmahalla Palace, toured the US-supported Mitr Transgender Clinic, met with students, had lunch at the Indian School of Business and visited T-Hub. He will wrap up his trip with visits to iconic cultural sites, including Charminar and Paigah tombs, where the US government is providing a quarter of a million dollars to support conservation and restoration of six tombs as part of the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.

The event saw the rendition of the National Anthems of both countries.

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