Indian lawmakers hail India-US ties

The situation in Afghanistan and India`s relationship with Iran did come up during the talks.

Washington: The relationship between India and the US has improved dramatically over the past 15 years and there is bi-partisan support in both the democratic countries to further strengthen the ties, according to a group of a visiting Indian parliamentarians.

"Over the past 15 years there has been dramatic improvement in relationship; dramatic coming together of India and the United States. It is bipartisan in every sense of the world," Biju Janata Dal leader Baijayant `Jay` Panda said as the lawmakers concluded their three-day visit here.

"Although all aspects of the relationship has not moved forward at the same speed, but some have moved faster than could have been imagined some time ago and other sectors require more work," he said, briefing reporters on the series of meetings the group had with officials at the State Department, the Pentagon, Congressmen and think-tanks.

Other members of the delegation, under the banner of India US Forums of Parliamentarians of the FICCI, include Supriya Sule (NCP), Uday Singh (BJP), Bhakta Charan Das, Partap Singh Bajwa, Manicka Tagore (all Congress), and Prem Das Rai (Sikkim Democratic Front).

Implementation of the civil nuclear deal was one of the issues that were raised by the American side during the meetings, Panda said.

"Many people (here) feel that having championed India`a access to civil nuclear energy, some people feel disappointed that American companies have not been able to get a head start in providing the nuclear power plant that India is planning to put up and companies from other countries have proceeded further," he said.

"But then in areas such as defence co-operation, there has been tremendous growth in terms of the acquisitions that India is making from the US is quite substantial," he said.

A day earlier, the Indian MPs met top lawmakers - Co-Chairs of the Senate India Caucus, Senators Mark Warner, and John Cornyn; and Co-Chair of the House Congressional Caucus, Congressmen, Joe Crowley, and Peter Roskam.

They also met Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, besides Ami Bera, the only Indian American lawmaker in the current Congress; and Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu Congresswoman in the US House of Representatives; and Congressman Ed Royce, who is Chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"One phrase that we kept hearing again and again is that Republican and Democrats do not agree much, they do agree on importance of India relationship," he said.

The situation in Afghanistan and India`s relationship with Iran did come up during the talks, he said, adding there is great deal of appreciation in the US about the constructive and developmental role played by India in Afghanistan.

Panda, who has been coming as part of this delegation for the past several years, said this time he got more optimistic sense.

"Because of the developing relationship, India and Americans particularly decision makers understand each other much better," he said.