Manmohan Singh’s visit to take India-US ties to next level (Lead)

Washington, Nov 17 (Inditopl.com) President Barack Obama had chosen to invite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the first state visit by any foreign dignitary to his White House as the US wanted to take their strategic relationship to the next level, according to a senior US official.

Describing the relationship with India as one of the most important partnerships of the 21st century, Washington’s point man for South Asia Robert Blake Monday said: “We are putting in place a wide range of bilateral cooperation to reflect that level of engagement.”

Ahead of Manmohan Singh’s “very notable” state visit next week, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia said the fact that Obama had been elected only last year and Manmohan Singh had been returned with a strong electoral mandate made them very optimistic.

“We are optimistic that it provides us a very significant opportunity in our bilateral relationship,” he said at an event on expectations from the Obama-Manmohan Singh summit.

Noting that Manmohan Singh had “courageously staked his government” on the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal, Blake said the agreement had “transformed our most significant irritant in bilateral relations into real strategic opportunity”.

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have repeatedly stated their deep commitment to strengthen US partnership with India, he said, while elaborating on the five key pillars of India-US relationship as outlined by Clinton.

The five pillars — Strategic Cooperation; Science, Technology, Health, and Innovation; Energy and Climate Change; Education and Development; Economics, Trade, and Agriculture — encompass virtually all of the key challenges facing the globe today, Blake said.

Blake also underscored the importance of greater people to people partnerships that will initiate business, entrepreneurial, scientific collaboration between individuals in the US and India; sharing ideas and bringing our two countries to a better understanding of one-another on both political and social levels.

Arun Singh, India’s deputy chief of mission in Washington, agreed that the expected long tenures of Obama and Manmohan Singh provided an excellent opportunity to take their bilateral relationship to a new level.

Pointing to the two-way flow of investment, he said while US was one of India’s leading sources of foreign investment, a new phenomenon in recent years has been the surge in Indian investments into the US.

“In 2007-08 alone, an estimated $10.50 billion was invested by Indian companies in the US, which, according to industry estimates, helped to create an additional 65,000 jobs here,” Singh said.

The landmark India-US civil nuclear deal also provided very significant business opportunities to US companies, he said.