The East-West Center’s 2016 International Media Conference kicked off Thursday evening with a reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador Richard Verma at Roosevelt House, his iconic residence on the embassy grounds. About 400 guests mingled in the elegant halls and patio, many reuniting with colleagues from previous EWC media programs.
The ambassador spoke briefly about what he called “one of the strongest periods ever” in U.S.-India relations, including a recent visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for a comprehensive strategic and commercial dialogue, and a pair of meetings between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi in just the last few days on the sidelines of several international summits.
“It’s enough to make an ambassador and his team completely exhausted,” Verma said, “and also really exhilarated about where where this relationship is going. “From the U.S.-India perspective, it really is a great time to be here.”
Acknowledging what he called the East-West Center’s “amazing work over the years in bridging divides in the Asia Pacific region and enhancing our understanding of what’s happening there,” he wished the conference participants well and expressed hope “that you come away with newfound friends and understandings about what’s happening here in India.”
EWC President Charles Morrison also spoke of a “deep reservoir of goodwill” between the two countries at the people-to-people level and raised a toast to “the common values we share, including democracy, civilian rule and freedom of speech.”
Over the next three days, the close to 350 journalists from dozens of nations who are attending the conference will engage in some 65 sessions focused on the theme of “South Asia Looking East,” programs, including keynote speakers, panels and media workshops.