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`Obama visit a major step ahead for Indo-US ties`

India is keenly looking forward to President Barack Obama`s visit in November and his trip will prove to be a major step forward in strengthening relationship between the two great democracies of the world.

Washington: India is keenly looking forward to President Barack Obama`s visit in November and his trip will prove to be a major step forward in strengthening relationship between the two great democracies of the world, Indian Ambassador to the US has said.

"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," Meera Shankar said before the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs.

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 Indo-US relations being a key strategic partnership of the 21st century, Shankar added.

The Indian envoy said that we are keenly looking forward to the visit of President Obama in November this year as yet another major milestone in our rapidly transforming
strategic partnership.

"The State visit of our Prime Minister last year focused on going beyond just the bilateral dimensions of this relationship to forge a global partnership," she said.

In the larger Asian and global context, both the US and India have an interest in protecting the global commons maritime, cyber and space domains. Free flow of information and trade across these commons is vital for both the economies.

"We need to also create appropriate norms for cyberspace to ensure that the freedom and anonymity provided by these pathways are not misused," she said.

Shankar said bilateral cooperation has entered new territories and explored new frontiers.

The counter-terrorism cooperation has acquired new momentum after Mumbai and the two countries have a new framework to strengthen their engagement focusing on
intelligence and information sharing, sharing of experience and capacity building.

"Our militaries, once unfamiliar with each other, now hold regular dialogue and exercises, coordinate anti-piracy efforts and have worked together on humanitarian missions.

"Our defence trade was negligible a decade ago; in the last few years we placed orders worth over USD 4 billion and it could grow even further as India seeks to diversify sources of supply and develop its defence production capabilities through greater private sector participation," the Indian Ambassador said.

Shankar said Indo-US nuclear agreement, signed in October 2008, not only removed a major problem that had shadowed and constrained bilateral relations but created a
basis for deeper economic ties and a more productive partnership on energy security, lessening reliance on fossil fuel and combating proliferation.

"We have also in a mutual sign of confidence, expanded our cooperation in space with India`s Moon orbiter, Chandrayaan I, carrying a US experimental payload which helped
to identify water on the moon," she said.

"There are good prospects for expanding this cooperation in the areas of space exploration, space flight and exchange of data for weather prediction and climate
trends. Further adjustment of the framework for bilateral cooperation in high technologies should truly reflect our strategic partnership," she said.


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