Partnership with India never mattered more: US

Kolkata: President Barack Obama's visit next month would be an "extraordinary milestone" in Indo-US relations as the partnership between the countries had never mattered more than it did now, a top US official said on Friday.

"There has never been a moment when Indians and Americans have mattered more to each other than they do today. There has never been a moment when partnership between India and the US mattered more than the rest of the world as it does now," US Under Secretary for Political Affairs William J Burns told reporters here.

Burns, who is visiting India along with US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert O Blake as the head of an official delegation ahead of President Obama's visit to the country next month, said it would be an "extraordinary milestone" in Indo-US relations.

Kolkata was an increasingly strategic state for cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region for both India and the US, the official said.

"Kolkata, being India's window to the East, offers interesting perspective on the growth of East Asia."

Stating that relations between countries were not confined to their respective capitals, but to their societies, Burns said, "Kolkata is important in this, because its intellectual and cultural leaders are known not only in India, but all over the world."

Earlier in the day, Burns visited the Missionaries of Charity headquarters here and offered floral tributes at the tomb of Mother Teresa.

"It is a humbling and moving experience to visit Mother House," he said and observed that both India and the US had a common interest in serving the poor.

Burns also met West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan over lunch.