US keen to boost economic, strategic engagement with India

Washington, July 24 (IANS) Asserting that President Barack Obama highly values US relationship with India, the White House has declared that it wants to continue to enhance US economic and strategic engagement with New Delhi.

That's the message Vice President Joe Biden, who is currently on a visit to India, is carrying "in his meetings with Indian officials," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday when asked if Biden was carrying a message from Obama.

However, he had "no announcements on travel or invitations" when asked if Biden was carrying an invitation from Obama to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit the US or when Obama himself planned to make a second visit to India.

"There are enormous opportunities for our two countries to work together and to work together even more closely than we have as this relationship has evolved in a positive direction now for so many years," Carney said.

There's a lot that Biden is discussing in India "when it comes to economic growth, trade, energy and climate change, as well as security issues and education issues," he said,

Before he departed, Biden was very much looking forward to his India trip, Carney said. "He and the President highly value our relationship with India, and are looking for ways to make it even stronger and more cooperative."

Asked about the issue of visas for highly skilled workers raised by top American companies at a recent meeting of the US-India Business Council, an advocacy group seeking stronger commercial relations with India, Carney said he was not aware of any specific issue.

"But one of the reasons that we need comprehensive immigration reform is to streamline our immigration practices for the sake of businesses that depend on and can utilize the talent of immigrants who bring new ideas and entrepreneurial spirit here to the United States," he said.

Meanwhile, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that Secretary of State John Kerry and Biden who "have a longstanding, close relationship that goes back literally decades, from working together in the Senate" had discussed his trip to India "and how much he (Kerry) enjoyed his time there."

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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