'Obama's India trip must focus on trade, counter-terrorism'

Describing US President Barack Obama's acceptance of invitation to travel to India as a "welcome development", a top Republican lawmaker on Friday said the American leader's trip should focus on trade and have a strong counter-terrorism component to it.

PTI| Last Updated: Nov 21, 2014, 23:06 PM IST

Washington: Describing US President Barack Obama's acceptance of invitation to travel to India as a "welcome development", a top Republican lawmaker on Friday said the American leader's trip should focus on trade and have a strong counter-terrorism component to it.

"Today's announcement that President Obama has accepted an invitation to attend Indian Republic Day as the Chief Guest is a very welcome development," Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

He said that the presidential visit should focus on the bilateral trade relationship and it should have a strong counter-terrorism component to it.

"Given the significant threat India and the US face from radicalism, the President's visit should have a strong counter-terrorism component, as well. President Obama should push for more high-level visits by each country's various intelligence and security agencies. Our cooperation is strong, but there remains a need for greater engagement," Royce said.

Noting that the importance of US-India relations cannot be overstated, he said this has been a relationship that unfortunately has struggled to find its footing in the last several years.

"The President's visit could be another important step in getting this relationship back on track, following Prime Minister Modi's very successful trip to the US, which I had the honour of being a part of, including welcoming the Prime Minister to Congress," he said.

Royce said, during his trip, Obama will have the opportunity to help push US-India trade relations, which are far below their potential.

"Some progress has been made recently, but the President needs to push for full implementation of the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement, which would increase market access and lower transaction costs for US and foreign companies in India," he said.

"The US should be encouraging Indian investment in the US. Progress also needs to be made on implementing the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement. Given India's significant energy needs, we need to overcome the impasse that has stalled this agreement. Too much has been invested in this critical energy area to let it languish," Royce said.