US Vice-president Joe Biden pitches for enhanced relations in terms of bilateral trade as well as strategic and economic partnerships; Vice President Biden: India are cooperating closely in Afghanistan; President Obama: Fixing economy would be the
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  • US Vice-President Joe Biden, on July 24, described India as a “rising power” and said that the US was a stakeholder in its “vibrant” economy. He also pitched enhanced relations in terms of bilateral trade and strategic and economic partnerships. He was speaking on the sidelines of the “US-India Partnerships” at the Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai. Speaking about the India’s rise since 1991, Biden said that India took a “bold step” to open up its economy to the world. “In 1991, there were five million telephone lines in India against the 900 million today. The bilateral trade between the two countries also reached $100 billion in the last 13 years. Liberalisation has also helped India boost its exports from $20 billion to $300 billion. Imagine what the two countries can achieve together,” he said. Recognising the contribution of Indian immigrants, he said the US has benefited greatly from Indian human capital. Suggesting increased cooperation in civil nuclear energy, he said a 6,000 MW power plant could be set up in Gujarat using American nuclear reactors. “There is dialogue ranging from strategic and military partnerships to higher education. Military relations are also being worked upon, but without compromising the sovereignty and independence of either of the nations. India currently bought C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft, which are being used to save the lives of flood victims in Uttarakhand,” he added. Regarding global terrorism, he said that both the nations have shared intelligence and other information to prevent terror attacks. “We have had our 9/11, while India has had its 26/11,” Biden said. About Pakistan, Biden said that Indo-US relations would not be defined by the status and nature of India’s relations with Pakistan. Mr Biden also added that a strong and powerful India is central to ensure a stable South Asia. 1

    Biden also noted, "America and India are cooperating closely in Afghanistan. It’s been the subject of many of my discussions thus far with your leadership…I know there are questions about the U.S. position on reconciliation with the Taliban. I want to be clear: We have always been committed to an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process that meets three outcomes. The Taliban must, one, break with Al Qaeda permanently; stop the violence; accept the Afghan constitution and guarantee free and equal treatment for women.” Biden said India has exercised responsible leadership in Afghanistan through assistance, investment and strategic agreements with the Afghan government. "The United States is committed to supporting Afghanistan through our Strategic Partnership after the transition is complete at the end of 2014… we are not leaving the region –- even as Afghanis step up and take responsibility," he stated. 2

    According to reports, US President Barack Obama on July 25 said the US has fought its way back after suffering one of the worst economic recessions in years and asserted that fixing economy would be the "highest priority" of his second term. "Five years after the start of that Great Recession, America has fought its way back. We fought our way back," he said in a speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he had delivered his first major economic speech on the national stage in 2005. Observing that there is a growing inequality, Obama said reversing trend like this has to be Washington's highest priority. "It has to be Washington's highest priority. It's certainly my highest priority," he said. Listing out the steps taken by his administration to save the auto industry; fix the broken health care system and investing in new American technologies to reverse dependence on foreign oil, Obama said that in the last 40 months, businesses have created 7.2 million new jobs. "This year, we're off to our strongest private sector job growth since 1999," he said.” 3

    In other developments, according to reports, the United States needs to build up partnership with India on cyber security issues, eminent American experts have said, noting that New Delhi faces threat in the cyber sphere from Pakistan, China and non-state actors. "The Indians' primary concern in cyber security is with Pakistan and Pakistani non-state actors or state-sponsored actors launching some kind of attack against India. Their second concern is Chinese espionage," James Lewis, Director and Senior Fellow, Centre for Strategic International Studies' Technology and Public Policy Programme, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing. "One of the things that works in our favour is they aren't particularly friends with the Chinese all the time, and they worry a lot about it. So we have an opportunity to work with India. The thing we have to avoid in doing that is giving the impression that we're trying to contain China," he stated. 4

    Reports noted that US Vice President of the United States of America Joseph R Biden will visit Singapore from July 25-27, 2013. He will meet with President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. 5