US to build on Obama’s India visit this year: Blake

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Thursday, January 20, 2011

WASHINGTON - The US will build on President Barack Obama’s India visit through an intensive programme of collaborative activities that will see more “high profile visits and even greater engagement” this year, a senior US official has said.

Among the high-profile visits to India will be by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other cabinet officials in spring and by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in February.

Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake announced this during a talk Wednesday at Rice University, Houston in Texas, on the Obama Administration’s Priorities in South and Central Asia.

“Of particular note, we welcome the opportunity to work with India closely during its two-year tenure on the UN Security Council, which started Jan 1,” he said.

On the business side, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will travel to India in February to attend Aero India, the biannual Indian aerial fair that has grown in importance as India itself has grown.

India will soon announce the winners of a tender worth up to $12 billion to supply 126 medium multi-range combat aircraft - a competition in which both Boeing and Lockheed Martin have entered their jets, Blake noted.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other cabinet officials “will also travel to India this spring for the US-India Strategic Dialogue, which oversees the entire spectrum of our cooperation”, he said.

“India’s democracy, diversity and knowledge-based society make it special, a model of a tolerant pluralistic society in the region, and one that now actively seeks to work with the US and others to help solve problems on a global level,” Blake said.

“Growing ties between our societies, our economies and our governments have helped sustain and accelerate India’s rise,” he said, noting that the nearly three million Indian-Americans “provide a powerful connection between us, as do the more than 100,000 Indian students studying in US universities”.

India’s growing economic power has also made it among the fastest growing investors in the United States, Blake said. Over the last decade, investment from India to the United States grew at an annualised rate of 53 percent, reaching an estimated $4.4 billion in 2009.

“Engagement across the US and Indian governments has never been as robust and comprehensive as it is today,” Blake said and noted Obama acknowledged India’s growing role in the world by endorsing India for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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