Top Obama cabinet officials to attend US-India interaction

June 17th, 2009 - 10:14 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 17 (IANS) Three top Obama administration officials are expected to outline Washington’s plans to boost bilaerasl ties as the US and India begin their first high-level interaction after the return of the Manmohan Singh government.

Setting at rest speculation that unlike the previous Bush administration, Obama was ignoring New Delhi, three members of any US president’s cabinet will for the first time appear together on one platform to push forward Indo-US relations at the US-India Business Council’s (USIBC) Synergies Summit Wednesday.

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to outline where India stands in Obama administration’s world view, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and the US Trade Representative Ronald Kirk will talk about the way ahead for the India-US trade and economic partnership.

India’s viewpoint will be articulated by the Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, the first cabinet minister to visit the US after the elections, in a keynote address on “India and the US - Partners for Prosperity”.

Wednesday’s summit is also expected to set the stage for three or four cabinet visits from the US to India in the coming months, including Clinton, Locke and Kirk.

Among the Indian business leaders at the Synergies Summit will be Azim Premji, Anil Ambani, the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) new president, Venu Srinivasan, and its chief mentor, Tarun Das.

For the first time, the CII has brought a second team of Indian CEOs to interact with American businesses. A similar team was here in March, somewhat making up for the gap in bilateral interaction caused by the elections.

The US-India dialogue formally began Tuesday night at Newseum, this capital city’s newest building that houses a media museum with Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup, author of Q&A, on which Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire is based receiving the USIBC’34th anniversary award for “Cultural ties that bind” the two countries.

Swarup, who is India’s deputy high commissioner to South Africa, received the award “for the author’s contribution illuminating aspects of society that facilitate a deeper understanding and abiding respect for humanity.”

Sharma during his four day stay in the US capital will apart from meetings with Locke, and Kirk, he would meet representatives from the US Congress, the US government and US industry at a reception to be hosted by Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar.

India-US trade has grown rapidly since 2004 with total two-way turnover increasing from $21.7 billion to $41.7 billion in 2007 with US exports accounting for $17.6 billion and Indian exports totalling $24.1 billion.

Despite the economic crisis, trade continued to grow in 2008, though at a slower rate reaching a total value of $43.4 billion.

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

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