Washington: US President Barack Obama left
for Mumbai on Friday, saying he would seek to pry open the Indian
market for American businesses during his maiden visit to the
country that is expected to give a fresh impetus to bilateral
strategic and economic partnership.
In a statement before leaving for his four-nation Asia
tour starting with India, Obama said he would be talking about
opening up of additional markets in countries like India as
American jobs depended greatly on American exports.
He said his administration had set a goal of doubling
US exports over the next five years to create more jobs back
"It is absolutely clear that the key to creating new
jobs is opening markets for American goods made by American
"And that is why on the trip I am undertaking, I will
be talking about opening up additional markets in places like
India," said Obama, close on the heels of Democrats` recent
drubbing in US mid-term elections, largely attributed to the
discontent over his government`s handling of unemployment and
Pointing out that American businesses need to sell
more products abroad for creating more jobs at home, Obama
said he said: "I am looking very much forward to helping to
pry open markets for American businesses".
He said focusing on the future, rather than on the
"next election" was key to the success of the American future.
"This is a reminder (of the fact) that the most
important competition we face in this century will not be
between Democrats and Republicans, it is a competition with
countries around the world to lead the global economy," he
In his Roosevelt Room remarks on the latest job
figures, minutes before he boarded Marine One from the White
House lawns, Obama said: "Our prosperity depends not just on
consuming things, but also on being the maker of things. In
fact, for every USD 1 billion we increase in exports,
thousands of jobs are supported here at home".
With the recent election, that has given the control
of the House of Representatives to the Republicans heavy on
his mind, Obama said political differences cannot be allowed
to create a deadlock in the country.
"We can`t spend the next two years mired in
gridlock... Our future depends on putting politics aside to
solve problems, to worry about the next generation instead of
the next election," he asserted.
"Other countries, like China, aren`t standing still.
So we can`t stand still either. We`ve got to move forward," he
Earlier, the National Security Council spokesman Mike
Hammer, said India is an indispensable partner rising on
global stage and that lifting restrictions on export control
of high technology items and counter-terrorism measures were
on the agenda during summit talks.
The White House also said that it supports and
encourages both India and Pakistan to resolve their bilateral
issues directly, noting that Islamabad has nothing to fear
from Washington`s growing ties with New Delhi.
Obama is due to hold talks with Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Monday.
Hammer said lifting of restrictions on exports of dual
use items is something that will come up in the course of
Obama`s visit to India.
"I don`t, again, want to get ahead of ourselves in
terms of any potential announcements, but it is complicated,
and we`re working through it," he added.
Obama too in an interview to the PTI had said these
are very difficult and complicated issues.
Obama is leading the largest-ever American business
mission overseas on the first leg of his visit.
Obama will hold summit talks on Monday with Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh in which the crucial issue of lifting
restrictions on export control of high technology items to
this country, India`s quest for a permanent membership of the
UN Security Council, counter-terrorism measures and a joint
initiative on clean energy are expected to figure prominently.
US-India Business Council is organising what its
president Ron Sommers described as the largest-ever US
business mission overseas, with some 240 companies taking part
in a commercial summit in Mumbai alongside Obama.
Immediately after the Air Force One touches down at
Mumbai airport, Obama will fly to the Taj Hotel, 19th century
icon of Indian hospitality and make a statement to commemorate
the 26/11 attacks. He will pay his respects to the victims and
sign the guest book.
The choice of Taj Hotel, the epicentre of the Mumbai
massacre by Pakistani terrorists, for his two-day stay, has
been described by Obama in an interview to PTI as a "tribute
to the resilience of the Indian people" and to underscore the
shared commitment of the two countries to counter terrorism.
The longest foreign outing of Obama`s presidency aims
to gain out economic benefits for the US.
The president will returns to the US on November 14, a
day ahead of a lame-duck congressional session.
Obama is the sixth US President to visit India, and
the third successive one since 2000 when Bill Clinton came to
the country on a landmark visit.
While Clinton and George W Bush both came to India
during their second terms, Obama is heading to the country
during the second year of his regime.
The President will be in India for three days, the
longest single stretch he has spent in any foreign country.
"The primary purpose is to take a bunch of US
companies and open up markets so that we can sell in Asia, in
some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, and we can
create jobs here in the United States," Obama told reporters