Obama's India Visit

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by ajtr, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    US-India strategic dialogue to prepare ground for Obama visit


    The inaugural US-India strategic dialogue in Washington next week would prepare the ground for President Barack Obama's visit to India in autumn, say officials.
    "Let me just say that there has not been any change," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake told reporters on Friday asserting "the Obama administration attaches great importance to our relations with India."
    "As President Obama himself has said, this will be one of our signature partnerships in the 21st century," he said pointing to the fact that Obama had invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the first state visit of his administration last November "to reaffirm the importance that we attach to our relations with India."
    "One of the purposes of the strategic dialogue is to think through what are the big, new opportunities and where are the big areas of cooperation," Blake said suggesting sceptics perceptions would be best addressed "just by delivering results and by showing, in a concrete way, all of the various things that we're doing."
    External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will lead a team of ministers and officials at the June 2-3 dialogue covering a wide range of areas, including high technology trade, science & technology, civil nuclear cooperation, agriculture, human resource development, security and other strategic issues.
    After the dialogue "there will be deliverables" Blake said. But "the purpose of this dialogue is really to think strategically and, again, to get the key people who work on these issues together to think ahead to the President's visit and to think strategically about what we can do."
    Among the global and regional issues the situation in Afghanistan Pakistan region would be the key focus area. The two sides will also talk about Iran as "the United States and India both share a concern about Iran's nuclear ambitions, and both of us are opposed to any kind of nuclear arms for Iran."
    On the bilateral front, "we have 18 separate dialogues underway between the United States and India to really try to capture the full scope of the opportunities ahead of us," Blake said.
    Tone for the discussions was set by Obama's phone call Friday to Manmohan Singh when the "leaders agreed that the dialogue is an important milestone in the development of the US-India strategic partnership and looked forward to its results."
    Obama and Singh "also expressed their hope that the dialogue will initiate a regular exchange of ideas and discussion between their governments and both pledged their support toward that end," according to a White House readout of the call.
    The dialogue gets underway June 2 with the 35th annual meeting of the US-India Business Council, while Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and US Under Secretary of Political Affairs Bill Burns "will oversee a very wide-ranging foreign policy dialogue that will cover Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East, probably China, and many other topics."
    The main strategic dialogue on June 3 chaired by Clinton and Krishna will be "about not so much what we've accomplished, but to look ahead about what we can accomplish, and particularly look ahead to the President's visit sometime this fall to India," Blake said.
    On the Indian side, Krishna will be joined by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and the Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan and other top officials.
    On the US side, Clinton will be joined by National Security Advisor James Jones, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, FBI Director Robert Mueller and the USAID Director Rajiv Shah.
     
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  3. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Obama’s India visit set for early November

    [​IMG]
    President Barack Obama speaks as External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna looks on during a U.S. -India strategic dialogue reception at the Department of State in Washington on Thursday.

    President Barack Obama today announced that he would be visiting India in early November 2010.

    Speaking to a packed reception hall at the State Department building in Foggy Bottom Mr. Obama said, “During his state visit, the Prime Minister graciously invited me and my family to visit India this year, and I happily accepted. And as I confirmed to him when we spoke last week, I am delighted to announce tonight that I plan to visit India in early November.”

    As it happened External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, speaking just before Mr. Obama, had reiterated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s and indeed all of India’s anticipation of the Obama family visit later this year.

    The President said that he looked forward to advancing the U.S.-India partnership, to experiencing all that India and its people and its incredible ancient culture had to offer, adding in a lighter vein, “And I intend to create an ‘Obama Platter’” after noting earlier that a restaurant in New Delhi was now serving a ‘Hillary Platter’.

    PTI Adds

    A senior Administration official later said the dates of his travel to India have been fixed from November 7 to 10. It is expected to be announced closer to the visit. The First Lady would also travel with Mr. Obama to India.

    Looking forward to his visit to India, Mr. Obama quoted from an eminent Europe scholar who travelled to India more than a century ago, who said, “Whatever sphere of the human mind you may select for your special study, whether it be language or religion or mythology or philosophy, whether it be law or customs, primitive art, or science, you have to go to India, because,” he said, “some of the most valuable and instructive material of the history of man are treasured up in India, and India only.”

    Mr. Obama said: “So when it comes to the sphere of our work, building a future of greater prosperity, opportunity and security for our people, there is no doubt; I have to go India. But even more, I am proud to go to India, and I look forward to the history that we will make together, progress that will be treasured not just by this generation but by generations to come.”

    Earlier in his remarks, Mr. Krishna said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recalls very warmly his meeting with the U.S. President at the successful Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010. “He and over one billion citizens of India look forward to welcoming you and your family later this year,” the External Affairs Minister said. “A very warm and heartfelt welcome awaits you and the family,” he added.

    http://beta.thehindu.com/news/national/article446164.ece?homepage=true
     
  4. ganesh177

    ganesh177 Regular Member

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    Obama pledges to make history with India in November visit



    Obama pledges to make history with India in November visit

    WASHINGTON: Pledging that he will make history with India and "progress that will be treasured not just by this generation but by generations to come," US President Barack Obama on Thursday announced he will visit the country early November this year.


    In brief, witty, and eventually rousing remarks at an elegant reception Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted for her Indian counterpart S M Krishna at the State Department, Obama, rising to counter the perception that he has sidelined New Delhi, repeatedly spoke of how central and important India was in the US, and his, scheme of things.

    "It's rising power and a responsible global power. That's why I firmly believe that the relationship between the United States and India will be a defining partnership in the 21st century," he said in a statement that has now become a signature tune in Washington, repeated by officials high and middling.

    Describing the relationship between the United States and India as "fundamentally unique" because of their common interests and common values, Obama said Washington values the partnership "not because of where India is on a map, but because of what we share and where we can go together," a sly dig at countries that sell their geographic importance.

    "India is indispensable to the future that we seek ? a future of security and prosperity for all nations," Obama said, joking, "That's why a third of my Cabinet has already visited India -- not only for the chapatis."

    As first reported in this newspaper, Obama made the special gesture of turning up at the State Department ? and then turned on the charm offensive. His sideways banter during the speech included a dig at Hillary Clinton about a food platter named after her in a New Delhi restaurant; he was going to India to ensure there is an "Obama platter."

    The President was in a particularly jokey mood with his Secretary of State (Washington scuttlebutt is they still have their differences), subtly challenging her hold on the India portfolio and trumping her Mark Twain quote rhapsodizing about India with a Max Mueller observation he dug up about the glory of India.

    "So when it comes to the sphere of our work -- building a future of greater prosperity, opportunity and security for our people, there is no doubt: I have to go to India. But even more, I am proud to go to India," Obama, who has visited Pakistan as a student but never come to India, said.

    Obama, when he makes the trip, will be the sixth American President to visit India after Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George Bush (43).

    Skeptics, including some former Indian diplomats, remained underwhelmed by the President?s soaring rhetoric, wanting to know what specific deliverables US had for India. They pointed to the still limited engagement on counter-terrorism, the fact that some Indian science and defense entities are still under sanctions, and Washington?s reluctance to explicitly endorse India for a permanent U.N Security Council seat.

    "All in good time," counselled a senior administration official, on the margins of the event, insisting that there were more than just fine sentiments about India now. Another official, waving his hand around the stately Benjamin Franklin Room, laden with treasures such as the desk used by John Quincy Adams to draft the Declaration of Independence and portraits of the Founding Fathers, said, "With which other country do you think we can celebrate our common values here? China? This is the real stuff. The rest is detail."

    It was certainly impressive and engaging. As Obama worked the short ropeline holding back some 400 guests after his address, he had many Indian-Americans eating out of his hands ? not surprising after his platter jokes and chapatti references ? as they jostled to greet him. Momentarily at least, the idea that he had sidelined India seemed preposterous.

    After his motorcade sped away amid a thunderstorm outside, it turned out that he dropped by at his daughter Malia?s school. Later in the night, White House officials said he telephoned Indonesia?s President Yudhodhana and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to tell them that he was having to again postpone (for the third time) his visit to their countries scheduled for middle of this month.

    It?s a scheduling wrinkle New Delhi may have to watch out for. On the other hand, it is possible he will segue visits to Indonesia and Australia to the India trip.

    Hillary Clinton quoting Mark Twain on India: "India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great-grandmother of tradition." "And I love the fact that it's mothers," Clinton added.

    President Obama quoting Max Mueller on India: "Whatever sphere of the human mind you may select for your special study, whether it be language, or religion, or mythology, or philosophy, whether it be law or customs, primitive art or science, you have to go to India." Because, he said, "some of the most valuable and instructive material of the history of man are treasured up in India and India only."
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...dia-in-November-visit/articleshow/6010228.cms
     
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  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Obama visit: India, US to begin talks on ‘deliverables’


    As the first substantive bilateral conversation on the ‘deliverables’ for President Barack Obama’s visit to India begins here this week, liberalisation of high-technology exports to India is likely to figure at the top of the list.
    US National Security Adviser James Jones is arriving in the Capital for two days of talks with the Indian establishment. His principal interlocutor here will be National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.

    Menon and Jones, who have been meeting frequently on the sidelines of various international gatherings during the past few months, will explore the possible give and take during the Obama visit, which is expected to take place in early November.

    Wrapping up the implementation of the historic India-US civil nuclear deal and dismantling the remaining vestiges of the technology denial regime against India are subjects that figure high on the agenda.The two officials are also likely to firm up plans for structured cooperation between the National Security Council staff in Washington and Delhi.

    During the first round of strategic dialogue in Washington last month, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had made the case, in public and in private, for removing various Indian entities, such as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the Indian Space Research Organisation, from the so-called American list of foreign entities slapped with technology sanctions.

    Krishna also urged his American interlocutors to put India in a higher category of strategic partners that enjoy liberal access to advanced and dual use technologies in the US. The Obama Administration had agreed to consider the Indian requests seriously. It is now the turn of Menon and Jones to find practical ways to get this done.

    Meanwhile, Delhi is said to be looking beyond the mere lifting of US national controls on high technology exports to India. It would like to be part of international bodies, like the Nuclear Suppliers Group, that draft the guidelines for the export of special technologies and materials.

    Only a full membership of these multilateral groupings would complete the political reconciliation between India and the global non-proliferation order.

    Indian membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Wassenaar Arrangement, which addresses the armaments trade, and the Australia Group, which deals with chemical weapons, would require mobilising the political consent of the current members.

    Washington, on its part, would want the removal of the last barriers for the full implementation of the civil nuclear initiative, including the passage of a liability legislation that is in tune with international standards.

    The Obama Administration has been signalling strong interest in winning a share of the rapidly expanding Indian defence market. Speaking in Washington earlier this month, US Under Secretary of Defence Michele Flournoy promised to offer “top of the line” defence technologies to India.

    She also underlined the ongoing efforts in Washington to streamline and modernise US export controls that would allow the building of solid defence technology partnerships with countries like India.

    Among the other actionable ideas under consideration for the Obama visit are expanding cooperation in maritime security, strengthening the partnership in outer space and initiating a new engagement in cyber-security.
     
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Krishna, Clinton discuss Obama visit, India-Pakistan talks


    Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna met his US counterpart Hillary Clinton in Kabul on Tuesday and discussed the Afghan situation, the recent India-Pakistan talks and the forthcoming visit of US President Barack Obama. In their discussions, Krishna conveyed India's position on the shifting



    Afghan situation and backed the peace and reintegration plan provided the Taliban renounces violence and accepts a democratic and pluralistic Afghanistan, sources said.
    Krishna and Clinton are among those who are attending an international conference on the future of Afghanistan, the largest gathering in Kabul in decades.

    Krishna also told Clinton about his talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad last week, sources said.

    He conveyed India's position that Pakistan needs to take tangible action against the militants behind the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack so that the dialogue process becomes meaningful in days to come, said the sources.

    The two also briefly touched on preparations for Obama's state visit to India in November and reviewed the recent visit of US National Security Adviser James Jones to New Delhi.

    India is hoping for the easing of US high-tech exports, including dual-use technologies, as a major gain during Obama's visit.

    In her discussions with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari Sunday, Clinton, according to Pakistani media reports, encouraged the continuation of dialogue between India and Pakistan.
     
  7. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    India, US need to sort out these issues before Obama's visit


    India and the United States are searching for the right language to help take major Indian entities out of a tough US list that bans all trade with these firms, in the run-up to US President Barack Obama's four-day November visit to India.

    The irony is that even as both sides are keen on engaging each other -- and several ministers were here recently to embark upon a multi-faceted relationship from education to agriculture to cooperation in new frontiers such as space -- they also continue to talk past each other on key bilateral and regional issues.

    Conversations with several officials in Washington DC, who requested anonymity, as well as South Asia analysts well acquainted with the corridors of power here, reveal that while the preparation for Obama's four-day India trip is in full swing, enthusiasm for a Pakistan visit is so low that the likelihood of it not taking place at all is actually quite high.A stand-alone India visit by Obama would be a shot in the arm for the India-US relationship, signalling the US president's intent to not only permanently de-hyphenate the two South Asian countries but also recognise India's pre-eminent place in the region.

    Topping the Indo-US agenda on sticky issues needing resolution is the issue of removing top Indian entities, such as the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Indian Space Research Organisation and Bharat Electronics, from a tough US export control list so that both countries can begin to trade normally in high-technology and dual-use goods.

    A second key difference of perception pertains to the Afghanistan-Pakistan situation, on which intensive discussions have taken place all of last week, with the visit of India's special envoy to Afghanistan S K Lambah. While US officials privately admit the 'deep complicity' of the Pakistan army and its intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence, on maintaining links with top figures of the Al Qaeda-Taliban even as they jointly fight the war against terror with US/NATO forces, they are unwilling to publicly admit that India remains on the frontline of the terrorism unleashed from the Af-Pak badlands.But it is the more immediate spat on ending US sanctions against the Indian entities that is concentrating minds these days. Trade with these entities was banned after India went nuclear in 1998 and has remained, despite the passage of the Indo-US nuclear deal in 2008, because of India's refusal to sign what it terms the discriminatory Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    So, when US officials argued recently that India must reiterate its determination to strictly abide by its own export control laws that prevent any leakages of technology it may buy from the US in the future, they didn't expect the backlash they received from Delhi. The US officials, anticipating the opening of the high-technology floodgates, said they thought it was a simple enough request to make to the Indian government.

    Instead, Delhi responded with its own set of demands.


    The US should first support Indian membership in key non-proliferation-related groups like the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia group(dealing with chemical and biological weapons) and the Waassenaar group (export controls for conventional arms).

    "We were stunned," one US official said,noting the US had expended considerable effort, even at the risk of alienating close allies like Pakistan, when it created an exception for India's nuclear status from 2005-2008.

    "To ask for membership of these groups at this time was like asking for something fantastic, especially since India continues to refuse to sign the NPT. To think of doing this before the Obama visit is totally impossible," he said.Countering the US demand, Indian officials argued that if US companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing wanted their fighter jets to compete in the Indian Air Force's 126-Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft deal (MMRCA), worth $11 billion -- the largest defence deal on the global market today -- or cooperate in activities in outer space with India, then sanctions against these entities must go.

    The signal was clear, said a South Asia analyst. India was baiting a recession-hit US with the idea of winning not only the MMRCA tender but also several others in the pipeline.

    Every top visitor to Washington DC in recent weeks, from External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, began to point out that dual-use sanctions had no place in the burgeoning partnership.

    With the deadline of the Obama visit looming large, both sides said they had now agreed to get off their respective high pedestals, find a compromise and contain the spat before it threatened to damage the rest of the relationship. In the coming weeks, the pace of bilateral visits is expected to pick up, as both sides think up new ideas for Obama's India agenda. Agreements on a space partnership, on education, as well as a new green revolution in agriculture, are very much on the cards, as is a photo-op of Obama rolling up his sleeves and playing cricket.
     
  8. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    H-1B bill could affect Obama's India visit


    Barring unforeseen developments, the US border security bill that steeply increases the work visa fees mainly used by Indian infotech firms will soon be at the desk of US President Barack Obama. Given its populist nature and the fact it is an election year, he is expected to sign it into law


    before November — just before his first official visit to India.
    Derek Scissors, research fellow in Asian economic policy at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, underscored this point. "I presume this is another element in the agenda that India will have to talk about."

    Sanjay Puri, chairman of the Indian-American lobby group USINPAC, agreed: "This bill is targeting the pride and one of the biggest symbols of India's economic resurgence. There will definitely be a lot of political compulsion for retaliation in India, which regards this is as an unfair trade practice. President Obama will have to deal with some hard questions on this issue given that this flies in the face of a stated policy of working closely with India."

    The more important issue for US politicians was finding a convenient anti-outsourcing target in Indian companies that use H1-B and L-1 visas at a time when jobs are front and centre in the lead up to the November 2 mid-term polls. Even if the furore over this particular bill plateaus out, there will be enough rhetoric on these matters to keep the overall issue alive when Obama arrives in New Delhi just days after the elections are held.

    Amid sharp criticism of the bill in India, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma has already written to the US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

    However, it is unlikely this issue can be resolved through the World Trade Organisation.

    As Scissors said, "This bill is a bad idea in general. But it will be very difficult for India to make a formal claim before the WTO as there is no discriminatory language in it." Therefore, he explained, there may be "no formal way to appeal it."

    There are still many steps to be taken before the bill becomes formal legislation. The Senate passed the bill on Thursday with the controversial provision put into it by New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. The US House of Representatives passed another bill on Tuesday, though almost identical, still needs to go back to the Senate for another vote due to procedural reasons. The Senate may just convene for a special session, since it is in recess, to pass the bill, perhaps as early as this week. It will reach the White House for signature within days.

    Obama’s signature will further impair the administration’s credentials in India. As Scissors said, "It’ll be more complicated for the President. He says the right things but when it comes to trade, he is half way to bring a protectionist."

    As far the India stopover is concerned, Puri said, "If the bill passes and is signed into law, it will definitely cast a shadow over the visit of President Obama."
     
  9. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Visa row: US keen not to hurt ties with India before Obama visit


    WASHINGTON: Amid growing resentment among Indian IT firms over US move to hike H-1B and L-1 visa fees, the Obama administration has initiated talks with leaders at the Capitol Hill and business community on the issue.

    With PresidentBarack Obama set to visit India in November, the US is keen that the issue does not impact on the fast growing economic ties with India.

    The hike in the visa fees to fund new measures would result in Indian IT companies having to shell out up to $250 million annually on visa costs.

    But there is no unanimity within the administration on the issue, officials privy to the discussion said.

    "This is an issue that we have had conversations with leaders on the Hill about. We have also had conversations across the government and we are listening to the concerns that business leaders have indicated and will be continuing our dialogue on this issue," state department spokesmanP J Crowley said.

    Corporate America had warned that the passage of the Border Security Bill, which seeks to fund enhanced security measures along the US-Mexico border by raising fees for certain category of visas, would undermine the growing economic relationship between the two countries.

    The proposed increase in visa application fee by at least $2,000 for next five years would raise nearly $550 million out of $650 million that have been allocated for increasing the security of the US-Mexico border.

    These fee increases would apply only to companies with more than 50 employees and for whom the majority of their workforce is visa-holding foreign workers.

    A summary of a Senate version of the bill named Indian firms Wipro, Tata, Infosys and Satyam, which use hundreds of these visas for their employees coming to the United States to work at their clients' locations as technicians and engineers.

    A senior Obama administration official noted that this is "not a done deal yet" and the government is looking at it in depth to resolve the issue by talking with the leaders of the Congress, the business community and those within the government.

    "There may be varying views about this within the government. We have to decide what our position is," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

    Another official said several people in the Obama administration and the Congress are uncomfortable with the funding measure of the Bill, which essentially attacks the Indian companies.

    But given the prevailing mood in the country on the eve of the crucial mid-term election in November, they do not want to be seen in anyway opposing a measure which is strengthening border security, the official observed.

    Read more: Visa row: US keen not to hurt ties with India before Obama visit - US - World - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...a-visit/articleshow/6298482.cms#ixzz0wRZpqh5X
     
  10. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Obama's India Visit : MoD, Navy and Air Chiefs object to US defence pacts

    Washington: In an indication that the United States might press India to accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty during President Barack Obama's November visit, a top administration official here said the U.S. would “strengthen our efforts to achieve ratification of both treaties by ... China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan...”

    Arguing that the ratification of the CTBT by these countries was necessary for the treaty to enter into force, Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation Rose Gottemoeller said the U.S. would also aim to get India and the other listed countries “negotiating a verifiable FMCT”.

    Mr. Obama has consistently emphasised on getting both treaties ratified during his time in office, a priority he outlined in a defining speech he made in Prague last year.

    The White House's keenness on getting both treaties ratified was further exemplified in strong statements by Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher, pressing Pakistan to end its opposition to the FMCT.

    On Pakistan

    Speaking at the Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference this year she said: “I think everyone shares the disappointment that the U.S. shares that there is a country that is blocking the programme of work that was a very hard fought agreement ... to move forward ... to begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.”

    She added that the U.S. joined with its friends and allies in “trying to persuade that country to step away and let the programme of work go forward because it would be a long negotiation.”


    Source
     
  11. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    H-1B bill could affect Obama's India visit

    Barring unforeseen developments, the US border security bill that steeply increases the work visa fees mainly used by Indian infotech firms will soon be at the desk of US President Barack Obama. Given its populist nature and the fact it is an election year, he is expected to sign it into law
    before November — just before his first official visit to India.

    Derek Scissors, research fellow in Asian economic policy at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, underscored this point. "I presume this is another element in the agenda that India will have to talk about."

    Sanjay Puri, chairman of the Indian-American lobby group USINPAC, agreed: "This bill is targeting the pride and one of the biggest symbols of India's economic resurgence. There will definitely be a lot of political compulsion for retaliation in India, which regards this is as an unfair trade practice. President Obama will have to deal with some hard questions on this issue given that this flies in the face of a stated policy of working closely with India."

    The more important issue for US politicians was finding a convenient anti-outsourcing target in Indian companies that use H1-B and L-1 visas at a time when jobs are front and centre in the lead up to the November 2 mid-term polls. Even if the furore over this particular bill plateaus out, there will be enough rhetoric on these matters to keep the overall issue alive when Obama arrives in New Delhi just days after the elections are held.

    Amid sharp criticism of the bill in India, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma has already written to the US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

    However, it is unlikely this issue can be resolved through the World Trade Organisation.

    As Scissors said, "This bill is a bad idea in general. But it will be very difficult for India to make a formal claim before the WTO as there is no discriminatory language in it." Therefore, he explained, there may be "no formal way to appeal it."

    There are still many steps to be taken before the bill becomes formal legislation. The Senate passed the bill on Thursday with the controversial provision put into it by New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. The US House of Representatives passed another bill on Tuesday, though almost identical, still needs to go back to the Senate for another vote due to procedural reasons. The Senate may just convene for a special session, since it is in recess, to pass the bill, perhaps as early as this week. It will reach the White House for signature within days.

    Obama’s signature will further impair the administration’s credentials in India. As Scissors said, "It’ll be more complicated for the President. He says the right things but when it comes to trade, he is half way to bring a protectionist."

    As far the India stopover is concerned, Puri said, "If the bill passes and is signed into law, it will definitely cast a shadow over the visit of President Obama."

    Source
     
  12. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Obama trip to avoid Bangalore?


    The dates of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India have been finalised for November 8 to 11. Though details of his itinerary and programme in the country are still being worked out, sources said that while Obama was keen to visit another Indian city apart from New Delhi, his choice was unlikely


    Most foreign dignitaries visiting India in recent times have chosen the IT capital as the second city to visit, after New Delhi. Obama was likely to go to financial capital Mumbai instead, the sources said.
    In New Delhi, Obama has an official meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and will be addressing a joint session of Parliament – just as his Democrat predecessor Bill Clinton did on his India trip, the sources added.

    "No final decision about the other city to visit has been taken yet. But the US-Mexico Border Security Bill has seen protests in Bangalore,” the official said. Both countries are keen to avoid any such embarrassment while Obama is in India.

    Bangalore’s IT community is dead against the Bill since it envisages a substantial hike in work permit fees from foreign professionals intending to work in the US. It intends to raise funds to strengthen security along the US’s border with Mexico and stem illegal immigration.

    Obama has also made no secret of his opposition to outsourcing of American jobs, and once famously declared that he wanted to see job opportunities grow in Buffalo, USA and not Bangalore, India.

    In contrast, a visit to Mumbai, India’s financial capital, will avoid any possible controversy, and will also be seen as expressing solidarity with 26/11 terror victims.(Which was an attack facilitated by american citizens)
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2010
  13. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Denuclearise Obama visit


    India needs a law on civil nuclear liability to advance the interests of the people of this country, not to please any visiting potentate. The government has given the Opposition ample reason to dress up the proposed civil nuclear liability law as a token of obeisance to President Obama when he visits India in November.

    Based primarily on this presumption, and the presumed American pressure on India to absolve US nuclear equipment suppliers of any liability in case of a nuclear accident at a power plant that utilises their equipment, Opposition MPs have raised objections to the Bill, particularly to its provisions allowing operators recourse.

    The Opposition reasoning is specious: it makes sense only if it is assumed that Indian operators of nuclear plants would be babes in the woods who do not draw up elaborate provisions for suppliers’ liability in case of an accident that arises from any flaw in the design, construction or material of the equipment supplied or in its installation process.

    The only contentious issue in the Bill is Clause 17, which begins as follows: “The operator of a nuclear installation shall have a right of recourse where —( a) such right is expressly provided for in a contract in writing...” There are two more conditions. These are, in reality, superfluous in a liability regime which places the onus for paying compensation to the victims of a nuclear accident on the operator. Such onus is sufficient incentive for the operator to fix liability on the vendor for any malfunctioning of the equipment supplied.

    If a vendor is unwilling to accept responsibility for the integrity of its equipment, there would be others willing to step in and take up the contract. As one of the world’s fastest growing energy markets, India will have bargaining power in such matters . The alternative to a law of the kind proposed is the current arrangement, in which Russia supplies equipment with all liability arising from its plants being borne by the government of India.

    Logic is one thing, and politics something else. It would be bad politics to push the Bill through without the logic seeping into broad political consciousness. It would only serve to paint the visiting US president as an agent of radioactive greed.
     
  14. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Nothing to be excited about


    Shobori Ganguli

    There is little that Barack Obama has held out to India as yet that inspires optimism or justifies any euphoria over his planned visit.

    A simple Google search will tell you that US President Barack Obama, into his second year in office, has already travelled to more countries than any other American President in the past. In fact, America’s frequent flyer has raised eyebrows among his own people, leaving critics to wonder whether the President, in his zeal to woo the international community, has not actually lost sight of his country’s myriad domestic problems. Even as that debate continues on American soil, India is getting ready to receive Mr Obama this November. Naturally, there are questions about what the visit would concretely translate into and whether the high profile engagement would go beyond ceremony to underline India’s relevance to the US as a major global ally. Given the tone and tenor of Mr Obama’s communication with some key Asian countries in the past year, there is reason for some scepticism.

    On the positive side, Mr Obama is visiting India right in his second year in office while his predecessors, Mr Bill Clinton and Mr George Bush, only reserved their second term for an Indian rendezvous. However, this factoid inspires little confidence about India-US engagement in general, given the skewed prioritisation Mr Obama has so far accorded to Asia.

    First among Mr Obama’s Asian priorities to be spelt out was his AfPak policy that instantly reduced India’s sphere of influence in the South Asian theatre. America’s intense desire to keep Pakistan proactively engaged in Afghanistan led to incessant pressure on India to resume dialogue with Pakistan post-26/11 in the course of which New Delhi was roundly rebuffed by Islamabad for carrying on with the “fiction” that Pakistani operatives were involved in the Mumbai terror attack.

    Even more glaring were the India and Pakistan bilaterals Mr Obama held in Washington this April. The readout of his meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said, “both countries were working against extremists in South Asia” and that they were both “truly facing a common enemy”. Further, Mr Obama laughably patted Pakistan on its back for taking nuclear security seriously, even asserting that, “appropriate safeguards were in place.” In the same breath he reiterated America’s commitment to $125 million worth energy sector projects in Pakistan. Last heard, the American largesse continues.

    Mr Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the same time and venue was starkly different in content. A noticeably tepid readout said the two countries would continue to work on their “robust relationship”, that the US appreciated India’s humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, and that the two had a shared vision of a strong, stable and prosperous South Asia. Terrorism being a common enemy and India’s track record on the nuclear front, of course, found no mention.

    In the context of Mr Obama’s forthcoming visit, one needs to be acutely aware of the fact that his vision of South Asia, at least for some time to come, will be refracted through the Afghan prism wherein the Americans live in the merry delusion that Pakistan is a valuable ally in the war against the Taliban and that a pliant India must keep Pakistan in good humour, no matter how grave the latter’s provocation.

    To come to Mr Obama’s other Asian priority. Even though Mr Singh may have gushingly admitted that the President had fired the imagination of millions around the world and that people in India were anxious to see him, the truth is Mr Obama is coming to India only this November, exactly a year since he opened his Asian account with a China visit. That India had slipped on Mr Obama’s priority list was quite evident during that trip to Beijing where a joint statement with Chinese President Hu Jintao re-hyphenated India and Pakistan — this, after India had fought, and won, a strenuous battle to be counted as a major global player and not simply a nuclear-armed country that remains caught in petty bickerings with its western neighbour.

    Mr Obama’s China visit had two unmistakable messages for India. One, it shattered the myth that the US would prop up India as a counter to growing Chinese hegemony and use it to neutralise China’s steady and sure rise as a superpower. In visiting China long before he even started planning his India visit, Mr Obama sent out the unambiguous signal that the US can, and will, do little to stymie China’s growth. In fact, Mr Obama said during that visit, “The Sino-US relationship has never been more important in our collective future".

    The second message automatically flowed out of this re-prioritisation that Mr Obama had undertaken. The joint China-US statement said both countries “support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan”. The highly offensive and patently unacceptable hyphenation of the two South Asian neighbours was firmly back in place. Worse, it had happened on the soil of a third country whose overt and covert support to Pakistan’s anti-India state policy is well documented. Shockingly, China was virtually crowned the guardian of South Asian peace at a time when India-China relations were passing through one of its worst phases.

    Clearly, the Obama Administration is being far from receptive to Indian concerns, minor or major. Sample the latest irritant, the H1 B visa controversy. Sponsored by New York Democrat Senator Charles Schumer, who incidentally called IT giant Infosys a “chop shop”, the US Border Security Bill says that companies with less than 50 per cent Americans in their workforce will have to pay an additional $2,000 for H1 B and L1 visas. Although meant to address the problem of illegal immigration across the US-Mexico border, the Bill effectively, if not directly, places Indian IT companies along side illegal immigrants. India has duly expressed its concerns over the issue, saying the Bill would impact Indian companies that have invested millions of dollars in the US and have hugely aided job-creation. While the Bill fits in well with Mr Obama’s famed election promise of not allowing US jobs to go to India, China and Germany, it is indeed a thankless slap for the Indian IT industry that has made a stupendous contribution to the American economy.

    Given this background, therefore, there is reason to employ a huge dose of caution in the run-up to the US President’s India visit. For, while general bonhomie managed to redeem Mr Clinton’s visit and the civil nuclear cooperation deal buoyed up Mr Bush’s trip, there is little Mr Obama has held out to India as yet that inspires optimism.
     
  15. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Please-Sikh Obama set to visit Golden Temple

    Obama to please Sikhs, any takers? :emot15:

    US President Barack Obama's maiden visit to India in November won't be all about tackling issues such as terrorism and outsourcing.

    His trip may also include a visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar and a stay at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai.

    Sources said a US team has conducted a security survey of the places Obama proposes to visit. His plan to visit the Golden Temple is being viewed as a goodwill gesture towards the Sikhs who form an economically and politically powerful community in the US. In Mumbai, Obama may also visit the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which was one of the targets of the Mumbai attack besides the Taj Mahal hotel.

    On the business side, India hopes Obama would make an announcement pledging the support of the US for India's candidature for a permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council.

    By the time Obama visits India, the country will become a non-permanent member of the UNSC. Therefore, a US declaration of support for India could not only bolster its chances of permanent membership of the UNSC but will also accelerate the process of UNSC reforms.

    However, the US has still not committed to such an announcement by Obama.

    India and the US will hold a series of meetings to finalise the agenda for Obama's visit. Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao will leave for Washington on Thursday. She will meet undersecretary of state for political affairs William Burns and other senior American officials.

    External affairs minister S. M. Krishna is also visiting the US on September 20 to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

    Commerce minister Anand Sharma and defence minister A. K. Antony are also expected to visit the US next month.

    India and America have a slew of differences to iron out ahead of Obama's visit.

    The hike in H1-B and L1 visa fee and the ban on outsourcing of IT projects promulgated by Ohio are some of the issues that India wants to be addressed. The US, on its part, has issues with the tightening of the nuclear liability clause.

    "Rao's discussions in Washington will focus on firming up key deliverables during the visit that should send a powerful message that the Indo-US global strategic partnership is set to keep its momentum under the new regime in Washington," an official said.

    Rao and Burns will continue their discussions when the latter visits India next month.

    Please-Sikh Obama set to visit Golden Temple
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2010
  16. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Obama does not want India visit to be merely symbolic

    All systems are go, and unless something earth-shattering takes place and compels a postponement, United States President Barack Obama -- just four days after the mid-term Congressional elections where his Democratic Party is expected to lose the House to the Republicans and possibly even the Senate -- will leave for India on November 6 evening.

    Sources told rediff.com that Obama had directed his senior aides, notably Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser Jim Jones, that he doesn't want his visit to be merely symbolic. He wants it to leave an imprimatur of US-India relations reminiscent of the transformative visit of President Bill Clinton in March 2000, and hence he is looking at an overall mission to the trip with the signing of at least two agreements of major significance.

    White House sources said Obama was apparently looking for something more tangible than the Indo-US nuclear deal that could be based on an initiative of his administration, since the nuke deal was something that was conceived by his predecessor George W Bush.According to the sources, his message to Clinton and Jones had percolated down to the senior officials, including the likes of US Ambassador to India Tim Roemer, who were scrambling to nail down "at least one or two big things" that would leave Obama's signature on the trip, in as much as assure India that the US considers India on a par with China as a global player and "an indispensable partner," as Obama himself has said on more than one occasion.

    Apart from Jones and Clinton, others who will accompany him on the trip are Under Secretary of State William Burns, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Robert Blake and possibly US Agency for International Development Administrator Dr Rajiv Shah -- the highest-ranking Indian American in the administration -- along with a few other senior officials from the departments of commerce and defense and a handful of US lawmakers.

    Obama will spend three days in India, the highlight of his visit being an address to Parliament on November 9.

    Apart from New Delhi, sources said Obama would visit one other major Indian city, which could be Bengaluru or Hyderabad or even Amritsar as Sikh American groups have been writing letters to the White House that he visit the Golden Temple, and the US security and advance teams have been checking out Amritsar too.
    They also acknowledged that business and industry groups from both the US and India had been arguing how he could go to India and not visit Mumbai -- the commercial hub -- when trade and commerce was the anchor of US-India relations even during the lows in diplomatic and political relations.

    Obama's visit, they said, would also figure when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Foreign Minister SM Krishna on the margins of the 65th United Nations General Assembly sessions beginning next week.

    However, what has left officials on both sides frustrated and more than a trifle concerned are the recent irritants that have cropped up, over the US move to hike the H-1B and L-1 visa fees, outsourcing issue which has once again become politically expedient, and the nuclear liability bill approved by Parliament which the US has found wanting.

    Noted strategic affairs expert Ashley Tellis, a former Bush Administration official, who was closely involved in negotiating the US-India nuclear deal had warned that if the bill "undermines the program of preventing private suppliers -- both Indian and foreign -- from entering the Indian nuclear market, it would eviscerate all the gains that the prime minister secured by signing the deal."

    Meanwhile, missives by Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar to US Trade Representative complaining that the visa fee hikes were "unfair" and incompatible with free trade hadn't evoked much response. With the administration trying to absolve itself from blame by noting that it was a Congressional action, this issue is expected to figure high on the agenda of the US-India Joint Trade Policy Forum in Washington, DC, on September 21.

    But sources acknowledged that unless this issue is resolved, the negotiation of a possible bilateral investment treaty that could be signed during Obama's trip, which was to be the basis of a high-powered delegation led by Under Secretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez to India, would be a damp squib.

    Also, in the absence of India making some changes in its nuclear liability law, the signing of the nuclear deal finally leading to its implementation -- now that the reprocessing agreement had been signed -- would be simply going through the motions and lack any pizzazz.

    Trying to iron out these hiccups that could mar the lustre of the visit was the basis of discussions between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Burns on September 16.

    Two other fronts where some movement was expected -- India signing three military agreements that the Pentagon has been pushing for, which was reiterated during Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy during her recent visit to New Delhi, and the US coming out in unambiguous and unequivocal support for India's bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council -- were also unlikely to see progress during Defence Minister A K Anthony's visit to Washington, DC, later this month or during Obama's visit to India in November.

    Even though the Obama administration has gone further than any US administration before it in acknowledging that India fully deserves such a seat, it has stopped short of a full-throated endorsement.

    Just after the first US-India Strategic Dialogue in June in Washington co-chaired by Clinton and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Burns told rediff.com during a forum convened by the Brookings Institution that there was no China factor keeping Washington from supporting India. Some administration insiders had predicted that as Beijing would veto India's candidacy, the US doesn't want to get into it with China.

    Some cynics said for all of Obama's desire to make his trip a transformational one and not simply one of symbolic value, at best there may be only a reiteration of the strategic partnership, some easing of the Export Entities List for dual-use technology that has been a sore point with New Delhi, and some agreements that couldn't be really argued would lend a kind of gravitas to the historic visit.

    Stephen Cohen, considered the doyen among South Asian experts in the United States told rediff.com that "the big thing that India wants is Pakistan," and explained that New Delhi wants the Obama administration to come down hard on Pakistan regarding cross-border terrorism and deny military largesse to Islamabad.

    But Cohen, director of the South Asia Program at The Brookings Institution, said, "The problem is, America has bi-polar disorder regarding India and Pakistan. Half of us want to love India and the other half wants to be nice to Pakistan. And yet, the two countries are almost each other's worst enemy."

    "We don't have a policy to cope with that issue -- or that situation," he said. "And, we don't even have the people to cope with the situation."
     
  17. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Nirupama, Burns discuss preparation for Obama visit


    India's Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Thursday met her U.S. counterpart, Under-Secretary William Burns, according to the State Department.

    A senior official on the Indian side told The Hindu that the Foreign Secretary-level dialogue was close to President Barack Obama's visit to India — slated for early November.

    He said the talks were thus “preparatory to the summit,” and they also focussed on reviewing the issues that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna discussed a couple of months ago, as part of the Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue of June.

    Industry Minister Anand Sharma and senior Indian officials will be in Washington for a slew of meetings over the coming week.

    India's Ambassador Meera Shankar told at the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs this week, “We hope that President Obama's upcoming visit would prove to be a major step forward in not only consolidating what our two democracies have jointly achieved but also for working together in areas where we are yet to see concrete progress, including genuine reform of international institutions with India given its due place.”

    In a defining speech made on the sidelines of the Strategic Dialogue, Mr. Burns had specifically reiterated the U.S.' support for India holding a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

    Ms. Shankar touched upon that theme again in her speech, saying “The growing support for a permanent seat for India in the U.N. Security Council would no doubt go a long way in enabling India to play its role to its full potential and in realising the idea of India-U.S. relations being a key strategic partnership of the 21st century.”

    She added that India keenly looked forward to the visit of the President. The state visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Washington last year had “focussed on going beyond just the bilateral dimensions of this relationship to forge a global partnership.”
     
  18. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Washington, Sep 17 (IANS) India's ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar, has expressed the hope that US President Barack Obama's visit would propel India towards a permanent seat in the UN Security Council to realise the full potential of their strategic partnership.

    India hoped that Obama's visit 'would prove to be a major step forward in not only consolidating what our two democracies have jointly achieved but also for working together in areas where we are yet to see concrete progress, including genuine reform of international institutions with India given its due place', she said at the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs Wednesday.

    'The growing support for a permanent seat for India in the UN Security Council would no doubt go a long way in enabling India to play its role to its full potential and in realising the idea of India-US relations being a key strategic partnership of the 21st century,' Shankar said.

    In an address on 'India and the United States - Strategic Partners', she said there was 'a very broad canvas before us to strengthen our strategic partnership as 'both our governments are committed to build on the excellent foundations that we have created to fulfil our common objective of creating a partnership that not only benefits the people of both countries, but also responds to the global challenges of our times'.

    'Now, as yet another major milestone in our rapidly transforming strategic partnership, we keenly look forward to the visit of President Obama in November this year,' Shankar said noting that the State visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last year 'focused on going beyond just the bilateral dimensions of this relationship to forge a global partnership'.

    'As we look to the future we hope first to substantially expand our economic ties and help create jobs and prosperity in both countries,' she said. 'In part this will be driven by global economic recovery and the relative health and competitiveness of the Indian and US economies.'

    Noting that the Indian economy will continue to be a huge opportunity with investments in infrastructure alone over the next decade requiring an investment of a trillion dollars, Shankar cautioned against protectionist trends.

    'It is important in this context not to allow the voices of protectionism to constrain the potential for positive engagement and for both countries to benefit from the enormous opportunities that lie ahead,' she said
     
  19. neo29

    neo29 Senior Member Senior Member

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    India gets positive vibes ahead of Obama visit

    As India prepares for the visit of President Barack Obama in early November, its numerous concerns ranging from visa fee hike to hi-tech export controls to cross border terrorism appears to have had some positive response.

    Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao is understood to have articulated New Delhi's concerns at a hectic round of meetings Friday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, White House National Security Advisor James Jones and other senior administration officials.

    Rao, who is here to prepare the ground for Obama's visit, also met with Under Secretary for Industry and Security at the Commerce Department, Eric L. Hirschhorn, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Ellen Tauscher, and Undersecretary of Defence for Policy, Michele Flournoy.

    As India looks at the Obama visit as a very significant milestone in India-US relations, which have become truly transformational in nature in the words of Clinton, Rao was encouraged by the 'positive orientation' towards Indian concerns at these meetings, sources said.

    While Indian concerns over the discriminatory hike in H1-B and L-1 visa fees would be taken up by the Commerce Minister Anand Sharma when he comes here for a meeting of the India-US Trade Forum Tuesday, sources described the issue of export controls as a work in progress.

    The US stand on India's permanent membership of the Security Council too was evolving and hopefully would ultimately veer round to US endorsement going by Clinton's statement that a reform of global institutions of governance should take into account India's emergence as a major power, sources suggested.

    On its part, the US raised its concerns over the nuclear liability bill and was told that while India was willing to discuss and address the suppliers' concerns, it was India's view that the legislation was consistent with the international nuclear liability convention.

    Rao also had an extensive discussion on India's perspective on Pakistan's role in Afghanistan and how some Pakistan based groups were promoting terror.

    On Afghanistan, the US now has a greater appreciation of the Indian perspective and the clear message from Washington was that India should stay involved and step up its work for the development of Afghanistan, sources said.

    India also got the impression that the United States was not going to draw down its forces from Afghanistan in a hurry next July as feared by some.

    State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley said Clinton, joined by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns and Assistant Secretary Bob Blake, Rao discussed the latest developments in the US-India relationship and preparations for the president's trip to India later this year.

    Obama will come on his maiden visit to India in the first week of November, according to diplomatic sources.

    'She plays a key role in co-chairing many of our most important bilateral dialogues, including the Strategic Security Dialogue, which addresses our commonly shared non-proliferation, disarmament, and security objectives, as well as the Global Issues Forum, which is dedicated to identifying ways to cooperate on meeting global challenges and embracing global opportunities,' he said.

    In response to a question, Crowley said US was having negotiations with India over opening more US and Indian consulates in either country.

    'We talk about this issue with India on a regular basis. As we broaden our relationship, we are evaluating on our side whether our current posture in India meets the requirements of an expanding relationship,' he said.

    'And likewise, India is doing the same thing in terms of its network of consulates. In this country, this is an issue that we continue to have negotiations with India.'


    India gets positive vibes ahead of Obama visit - Yahoo! India News
     
  20. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    India, US vow to end trade row before Barack Obama's visit


    WASHINGTON: India and the US have pledged to work together to boost trade ties while redoubling efforts to resolve several issues of concern, including visa and outsourcing issues, before President Barack Obama's November visit.

    A joint statement issued after a meeting of Indo-US Trade Policy Forum, co-chaired by Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, here on Tuesday did not identify the concerns of either side.

    But Sharma told reporters that India had articulated its concerns about the hike in US H1-B and L visa fees for professionals and the Ohio state ban on outsourcing of government contracts saying the "regressive measure had created an avoidable feeling of negativity in the service sector."

    He also told his interlocutors that at a time "when the global economy is still reeling from the aftershocks of the economic crisis and coming out of the recession any inward looking step of protectionist measure would slow down the pace of recovery and deepen the recession."

    As the US "is the world leader and the largest economy and therefore there are expectations from them," Sharma said, and hoped for early resolution of differences.

    "I feel that the US has seriously registered India's view point as well concerns of the Indian IT industry. We do hope there will be timely and appropriate responses," he said.

    Sharma, said he had also stressed the need to conclude the tantalization agreement as soon as possible, noting that Indian professionals contribute almost $2 billion contributed per annum towards social security.

    However, the joint statement merely said the forum focused "on the state of the burgeoning US-India trade and investment relationship, which is becoming an increasingly significant factor in the economic life and prosperity of our countries, as well as in the global economy."

    While "identifying areas for future constructive engagement between the two trading partners," they were "also able to exchange concerns on issues where we differ, recognizing that such issues are a natural part of growing trade and investment linkages between economies as dynamic as those of India and the United States," it said.

    The joint statement said Focus Group leads and other staff had been asked "to redouble their efforts, particularly in the coming weeks before President (Barack) Obama's visit to India, to take concrete steps towards resolving several issues of concern and to keep senior officials regularly informed of the results of those efforts."

    In a separate statement after the Sharma-Kirk meeting, the USTR said "the Obama Administration has worked to build on the United States' strong relationship with India by significantly increasing our trade with, and investment in, the world's largest democracy."

    The TPF "serves as a setting in which both countries bolster this burgeoning economic relationship by cooperating closely on areas of shared interest and working constructively to resolve areas of difference," it said without identifying the differences.

    "The dynamic growth of the Indian economy and its increasing importance to the United States as a strategic trade partner means that fostering solid connections between the United States and India opens valuable markets to American companies and supports job creation within the United States," the USTR said.

    "Through the Trade Policy Forum, USTR remains committed to trade as one way to support jobs in the United States, and looks forward to continuing to work with India in the future," it said.
     
  21. EagleOne

    EagleOne Regular Member

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    What will Obama have for India?

    That a President of the United States of America is visiting India in his first term, within the first 24 months of his tenure, undoubtedly denotes the position India occupies in the American foreign policy calculus. It is also an indicator that the relationship between the world’s two largest democracies is on a strong footing. However, but for the priority and timing, President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit in November raises few cheers, as a sense of hollowness creeps into this relationship, which is otherwise touted as a blossoming strategic partnership.

    Like their historic relationship, the strategic partnership has also moved on an uneven scale marked by highs and lows – with current trends pointing to a remarkable low. The President’s visit could be an opportunity to reverse this trend. Yet, there is a feeling of somnolence with no promising initiatives on the table which the visiting President can use to pump up the adrenalin. President Clinton’s visit of January 2000 -- the first by a US President in two decades -- was assumed to have endowed a creeping recognition of India’s de facto nuclear weapon status. President George W. Bush’s visit in March 2006 came months after he volunteered to facilitate India’s return to the non-proliferation mainstream through a nuclear deal, jointly announced with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 18 July 2005.

    Departing from such energetic scenarios, President Obama comes to a country about which he has warned his younger countrymen, if not euphemistically described though implying, as among the black holes which will suck out American jobs in coming years. For a President whose popularity dipped below 50 per cent in the first 20 months and whose ‘courageous’ policies have failed to revive the bruised US economy, visiting a country which has exploited the fruits of neo-liberal economics and drained the American economy of its jobs could be a fine balancing act. The President might have only Amritsar, Mumbai and Delhi in his itinerary, unlike his predecessors who visited IT hubs in Hyderabad and Bangalore. Will such exclusion help his economic diplomacy, which is in doldrums with his protectionist push and in the process is challenging American capitalistic ethos and employing a tool which the US resisted during the Bretton Woods push? For India, it is wait-and-watch to see how Obama’s vision will reflect at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The visit could hence be an opportunity to understand the man and his mission.

    Economics apart, the strategic partnership itself is on shaky legs as the President makes his foray into South Asia. There are, in fact, few areas left for new avenues to be explored. Rather, the stimulus needed is on existing key-result areas which remain unfulfilled. But for the nuclear deal and some non-strategic segments like agriculture and health, the Partnership has struggled on crucial sectors including high-technology trade, missile defence, space and defence cooperation, besides irritants in intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism, not to forget Af-Pak. Though intermittent reports point to an existent, fragile channel of intelligence cooperation, the Headley fiasco has raised potent questions on who gains from such cooperation.

    Counter-terror cooperation itself looks like an area of fiction. Imaginative prospects of such cooperation have been repeatedly hyped with no consonance on where it can realistically materialise. For long, both nations failed to achieve convergence on mutual perceptions about terrorism and their sources and means to tackle them. Though Washington has moved ahead from its pre-9/11 prejudices on the Kashmir insurgency and Pakistan-origin terrorism, the terms of engagement as defined by the US to deal with South Asian terror groups continue to be hypocritical. For, Washington believes that Indian action against Pakistan-based terror groups could impinge on Pakistani sovereignty, while presuming such extra-territorial security measures as the sole prerogative of the world’s only super power.

    Though countries harbouring terrorists are a ‘terrorist state’ in American parlance, Washington’s continuing reluctance to characterise Pakistan by such epithets only vitiates South Asia’s security dilemmas. Despite appreciating that the next terror attack on the US is likely to have a Pakistani signature and that the Pakistan military plays a dual game on its two frontiers, Obama could only exacerbate the calculus by advising early resolution of the Kashmir dispute to divert Pakistani troops to the North West. Considering that the traditional American strategic outlook on South Asian security has not changed, India-US counter-terror cooperation could only become an accelerator for American interests in Southern Asia rather than serve any purpose for India’s security requirements.

    Nor are things rosy on defence cooperation, with the ten-year framework of 2005 failing to provide any inspiration. Most instances of cooperation and military-level interactions only point to an inherent US desire to reap opportunities for its defence majors. A case in example is the segment of joint-exercises, through which unprecedented levels of ‘interoperability’ between the armed forces have been achieved, but without an idea on where such synergy will be used. From anti-piracy operations to maritime interdictions under the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), New Delhi has hesitated at every step where realistic partnership with the US military is involved. Little governmental impetus has happened to rectify this anomaly even as the Pentagon devotes its energy to cajoling India’s assimilation with its military sales and supply templates, thus confining the scope of interoperability to weapons systems.

    The American hunger to push military sales through the strategic partnership however reflects inversely when it comes to high-technology trade, where a similar enthusiasm is hard to find. Washington continues to hang on to its non-proliferation stigmas on India’s demand for a liberal waiver of licensing on dual-use and high-technology items. As Obama formulates a new licensing and export-control framework to synchronise with his nuclear security plan, hindrances in high-technology trade with spin-offs in space and defence cooperation remain the weakest link in the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) wish-list. Another ignored item in the NSSP is cooperation on missile defence, whose framework remains ambiguous. Besides the fact that the US had turned down Indian requests for transfer of systems like Arrow-II, there is little understanding on the scope of such cooperation – whether India will seek transfer/sale of US BMD systems or could there be cooperation in joint development or as technological assistance to India’s BMD projects. Considering that India’s missile defence development is progressing at a steady pace, it is unlikely that India, like US allies, will fit into Washington’s global BMD plans. Further, Obama’s own scepticism on BMD technology and his austerity on existing programmes virtually negate the potential for cooperation in this area.

    Giving a fillip to the strategic partnership thus requires proactive action and generosity from President Obama, one that resembles President Bush’s munificence. While an ambitious joint statement of the 18 July 2005-type appears unlikely, President Obama should realise that a name-sake visit to a strategic partner comes with tremendous expectations. The usual platitudes about a ‘transformational’ relationship and ‘natural partners’ will barely move emotions anymore, especially since they could conjoin with ‘advice’ on opening dialogue with Pakistan and addressing the Kashmir dispute. To live up to his name, President Obama might need to come out with a major political largesse. By all means, his concrete support for India’s permanent membership in a reformed UN Security Council seems the only real issue left. Will Obama do what Bush couldn’t?

    What will Obama have for India? | Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
     

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