As he prepares to meet President Barack Obama in Washington,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday that a “sustained and dynamic” Indo-US partnership is essential to meet major global challenges like international terrorism,climate change and economic slowdown.
Singh,who will hold wide-ranging talks with Obama on Tuesday,said India attaches “high priority” to its relations with the US which is today characterized by “greater maturity,depth and convergence of interests”.
In a departure statement,Singh said he looked forward to building upon this momentum during the nine-day visit that would also take him to Trinidad and Tobago for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
“The last several years have witnessed a transformation in India-US relations”,he said.
Singh,the first foreign leader to be hosted as State Guest by the 10-month-old Obama Administration,has a hectic schedule during his four-day stay in Washington.
His engagements include addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and business leaders of the two countries besides receiving some top US officials.
“A sustained and dynamic India-US partnership is essential if we are to meet the global challenges of the 21 century”,Singh said.
The Prime Minister said he looked forward to exchanging views with Obama on major global threats and challenges such as international terrorism,climate change,global economic slowdown,the Doha Round of trade negotiations and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
The situation in Afghanistan and other regional issues are also expected to figure during his talks with the US leadership,the Prime Minister said.
Terrorism emanating from Pakistan is expected to be high on agenda of the Singh-Obama talks.
The two sides are likely to sign an MoU on counter- terrorism that will provide a framework for institutionalised cooperation particularly in intelligence sharing,sources said.
The two countries are also expected to ink MoUs in renewable energy,IPR in agriculture and announce Singh-Obama Knowledge Initiative. Certain issues that are holding up implementation of the landmark civil nuclear agreement may take some more time though officials from the two countries are trying to iron out the creases before the two leaders meet.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said both the governments are fully committed to implementing the historic pact which offers immense benefits for India and opens business opportunities for the US.
At the bilateral levels,India looked forward to building upon the Strategic Dialogue by adding greater substance to cooperation in areas such as trade and investment,services,energy,science and technology,defence,high technology trade,education,agriculture and health,he said.
Singh is accompanied by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
The Prime Minister said the bilateral agenda with the US covered almost all areas of human endeavour. He noted that US is India’s largest trading partner in goods and services. There is a large Indian American community and robust people-to-people exchanges,he said adding “above all,we share common values and commitment to democracy,pluralism and human rights”.
During the visit,the Prime Minister said he would be meeting senior members of the US Cabinet,Senators and Congressmen.
He would also attend a business event jointly hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-India Business Council where members of the India-US CEOs Forum would also be present.
Singh said he would address the Council of Foreign Relations and Woodrow Wilson Centre,where he looked forward to interacting with leading American opinion makers of the US.
He would also meet members of the Indian American community who are playing an important role in fostering closer ties between the two countries.
Singh and Obama will also discuss issues like UN reforms in the backdrop of the recent statement by the world body that the new permanent members of the expanded council should be chosen by name rather than regions.
In the second leg of the tour,Singh will travel to Port of Spain,the capital of Trinidad and Tobago,for CHOGM,where he will exchange views on pressing global issues like climate change and terrorism.
Singh said India attaches “high importance” to the role of the Commonwealth in promoting cooperation amongst its members and in engaging the world in shaping a cooperative,equitable and development-friendly world order.
The theme for CHOGM-2009 is Partnering for a More Equitable and Sustainable Future. “I look forward to a wide-ranging exchange of views with other leaders on how we can address the challenge of climate change,which is a matter of particular concern to developing countries,small states and vulnerable states”,Singh said.