Washington: The state visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Washington later this month reflects Barack Obama`s personal respect for him and the "high priority" the President attaches to the Indo-US relationship, a top administration official said on Saturday.
Elaborate arrangements are being made by the White House to accord a grand welcome to the Prime Minister.
The first state visit of the Obama Administration, US officials say, is an indication of the importance attached to the US-India ties by the President.
Though the state dinner is scheduled for November 24, as was announced by the White House in early October, Singh is expected to arrive here a few days early to kick off his meetings in the US -- with the influential business community and the think-tanks -- as part of the government`s efforts to build on the people-to-people relationship.
"Under Secretary (of State for Political Affairs Bill) Burns visited India last month. The main purpose of his trip was to help prepare for Prime Minister Singh`s state visit to Washington this month, which is the first state visit to the White House in the Obama Administration," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.
"As Undersecretary Burns said, this is not only a reflection of the President`s personal respect for Prime Minister Singh, but also of the high priority that the administration attaches to our growing partnership with India," he said.
Kelly said the Obama Administration already has had a period of intense engagement with India.
There has been several high-profile visits between the two countries in the last couple of months including that of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to India in July and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to the US.
Several of the Indian and US cabinet ministers have made trips to each other`s countries as part of Administration`s agenda to deepen the strategic relationship with India.
Addressing the annual meet of US-India Business Council, Clinton said the two countries are at the beginning of a new era in bilateral relations, calling it "US-India 3.0".
"During her visit to India in July, she further articulated this Administration`s vision for expanded US-India ties, particularly in the areas of global security, human development, economic activity, and science and technology.
She underscored our commitment to broadening and deepening US-Indian relations," Kelly said.
"As proof of that commitment, she and External Affairs Minister (S M) Krishna launched an ambitious strategic dialogue between our two countries. That dialogue is already moving forward, focused on practical cooperation in a wide range of areas," he said.
A day earlier, responding to a reporter`s questions, Kelly said preparations are underway to ensure a good, substantive schedule of Manmohan Singh.
Addressing a meeting in Houston earlier this month, the Indian Ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar, said Obama and Singh will build on the progress the two countries have made to take the relationship to a new level.
The White House in a statement on October 2 said the two leaders are expected to discuss a range of global, regional and bilateral issues of shared interest and common concern.
"The two leaders will also likely discuss the strategic dialogue that was launched in July and review progress made in the dialogue," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had said.
"President Obama looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Singh to Washington and working with him to strengthen and enhance their partnership for the benefit of the people of both nations, and the world," he had said.