India one of US' strongest partners: Crowley

Washington: Terming India as one of America's "strongest" and "most important" partners, a prominent US lawmaker has pressed for greater focus on ties with New Delhi as well as on the large Indian American community.

Co-Chair of the House Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Congressman Joseph Crowley is part of the Congressional delegation visiting India.

Crowley will also travel to Myanmar immediately after his India visit.

"India is one of America's strongest and most important partners, from both economic and diplomatic perspectives, and it is important that we focus on our relations with India, as well as the Indian-American community here in the US," he said.

Led by Senator Mark Warner, Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, the delegation will meet top government and business leaders in New Delhi, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Kolkata, exploring opportunities to expand business, trade, defence and cultural relationships between the two countries.

Crowley represents New York's 7th Congressional District, which is home to a strong Indian-American community.

Ahead of his India travel, Crowley met local Indian- American community members and business leaders.

"I represent a very diverse district, which includes a large and vibrant Indian-American community, and US-India relations are important to many residents of the 7th district of New York. I look forward to updating them on my visit when I return and continuing to work them on a myriad of issues," Crowley said.

While in Myanmar on January 12 and 13, Crowley is expected to meet Nobel Laureate and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic minority leaders, as well as government leaders.

"I am visiting the country to assess the situation on the ground, as well as to encourage the government to continue on the path of reform. While the government has taken some steps in the direction of reform, there is more that needs to be done," he said.

"I am also very much looking forward to my meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi, a leader I have admired for years," he added.

Crowley has been vocal on the issue of Myanmar in the House - spearheading the effort to strengthen sanctions on its military leaders, authoring legislation to renew the ban on all imports from the country, and leading the successful effort to award Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal.