New Delhi/Washington: The White House has said that it regards India as the cornerstone of its Asia policy, and is therefore, attaching great importance to President Barack Obama’s four-day visit to India in the first week of November.
Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes said: “We believe that Asia is critical to our foreign policy strategy. It’s the fastest-growing markets in the world. It’s fundamental to our export initiative. So India is a cornerstone of our broader Asia approach, which is focused on, again, expanding exports for U.S. goods, deepening partnerships in important part of the world, partnering together in the G-20 and other forums.”
Rhodes said President Obama and his entourage would leave for India on November 5 and would arrive on November 6.
He said the President would make his first stop in Mumbai where he will commemorate the Mumbai terrorist attacks victims at the Taj Hotel.
“India is a close counter-terrorism partner of the United States. India has shown remarkable resilience in responding to terrorism. And the Taj, where the President is staying, was, of course, a centerpiece of those attacks in Mumbai. So, the President wanted to take the time to pay his respects to the victims who lost their lives and to sign the guest book there, but also to make some brief remarks to an assembled group of people who are connected to those attacks,” Rhodes said.
Thereafter, he said, President Obama would visit the Gandhi Museum.
“I think it’s important to note here that obviously one of the things that the United States shares with India is they’re the two world’s largest democracies. We believe that that’s fundamental to our relationship; it makes it a qualitatively different relationship in the sense that we have shared interests and shared values,” he added.
“And of course, the example of Gandhi is one that has inspired Americans, inspired African Americans, including Dr. King, and it’s very personally important to the President. So we’re looking forward to visiting the Gandhi Museum to underscore those shared experiences and shared values,” Rhodes said.
He said that Obama would then move on to a business summit that the U.S.-India Business Council is putting together.
Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, said: “The President will participate in three events at the business summit. The first is a roundtable with entrepreneurs. The second is a roundtable with some U.S. CEOs where they’ll be able to discuss the challenges and opportunities around doing business in India. And then the President will deliver a speech to the business summit.”
On November 7, President Obama would take part in a number of events that would be focused on the future partnership that the US is trying to build with India.
Rhodes said that Obama would begin the day by visiting a school in Mumbai, a local school, and help children to participate in celebrations around the Diwali holiday.
He would also address university students at the town hall and take part in a series of roundtables -- that focus on particular areas of the partnership that the U.S. and India are pursuing.
One of them would be on agriculture and food security, Rhodes said.
Rhodes said that Obama would reach New Delhi on the evening of November 7.
He said that the President’s first stop would be at Humayan’s tomb.
He would then have a private dinner with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur at the latter’s official residence.
On November 8, Rhodes said that Obama would pay homage at Rajghat, the memorial of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.
This would be followed with a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Singh and possibly a joint press conference thereafter.
He said the President could have a number of meetings, the schedule for which is yet to be decided.
In the afternoon, Obama would address a joint session of the Indian parliament on a broad range of issues on which the US and India can cooperate.
He would then attend a state dinner hosted by Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil.
On November 9, the U.S. entourage would leave for Indonesia.