It's a "unique opportunity to bring together all the threads of our cooperation that constitute the extraordinarily rich tapestry of our relationship," said External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna at the opening session of the third annual dialogue he co-chaired with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"In the process of our engagement, we have built something more precious -- friendship, goodwill, trust, mutual confidence, candour, and belief in the importance of a successful partnership," he said.
"Sometimes there are questions and doubts about the relationship. They are inevitable in something so unique and new," Krishna acknowledged.
"But I believe that having settled the question of whether India and the US can or should work towards a close relationship, the question we ask now are how to harness the full potential of that relationship," he said.
Echoing Krishna, Clinton said: "The effectiveness of our partnership hinges on our ability together to convert common interests into common actions."
But "It's not enough just to talk about cooperation" on various issues, she said.
"We have to follow through so that our people - citizens of two great pluralistic democracies - can see and feel the benefits."
Forging a new and more mature phase in their critical bilateral relationship, Clinton said: "There is less need today for the dramatic breakthroughs that marked earlier phases, but more need for steady, focused cooperation."
Noting that bilateral trade and investment may exceed $100 billion this year, up tenfold since 1995 and up more than 40 percent since 2009, Clinton made a call to keep up the momentum.
She sought to advance negotiations on the "Bilateral Investment Treaty, to further reduce barriers to trade and investment in areas like multi-brand retail, and to create hospitable environments for each of our companies to do business in the other's country".
Noting that the bilateral defence trade has surpassed $8 billion over the last five years, Clinton said: "We are convinced this partnership can grow in the future to include joint research, development and co-production of defence systems."