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Enhanced trade, N-deal on table in Biden-Manmohan meet

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) India and the US discussed ways to enhance economic cooperation and implementation of the civil nuclear deal that is stuck in commercial negotiations, among other issues, as visiting US Vice President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met here Tuesday.

Keeping up the momentum in their ties, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to visit the US in end September for a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama.

This was discussed during talks between Biden and Manmohan Singh, sources told IANS.

“The meeting between Obama and Singh will take place in September end, this has been confirmed. The dates have not been fixed yet. We are working on two sets of dates,” the source added.

The prime minister would attend the UN General Assembly in New York and then visit Washington for a bilateral summit with Obama. This will be Obama’s first bilateral meeting with Singh in his second term.

Biden, who arrived here Monday on a four-day visit, met Manmohan Singh for around an hour at the Prime Minister’s official residence – 7, Race Course Road.

Both sides “discussed the synergies between India and US on a wide variety of issues and emphasized the importance the bilateral relationship has,” the source said.

The prime minister “underlined the significance of economic exchange between the two countries in helping India to tackle the host of issues relating to enhancement of the wellbeing of the Indian people”.

Both sides held discussions on energy, innovation as well as on regional issues such as Afghanistan and the neighbourhood.

“They also discussed on how to take forward the commercial aspects of the civil nuclear agreement between the two countries,” said an official source.

Ahead of his visit, the US has welcomed India’s decision to increase foreign direct investment in key sectors like defence, telecom and insurance.

Immigration issues also figured in the talks, especially during Biden’s meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj. New Delhi has voiced concerns over a bill passed recently by the Senate that overhauls the H1B provision, severely impacting Indian tech firms operating in the US such as Infosys, Wipro, TCS and Satyam Mahindra.

Afghanistan, the drawdown of the US-led international forces in 2014 and the new regime in Pakistan were also touched upon during discussions on regional issues.

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, Ambassador Nirupama Rao and Foreign Secretary-designate Sujatha Singh were present during the talks, said sources.

Earlier, Biden called on Vice President Hamid Ansari where he outlined President Barack Obama’s and his “personal commitment and interest” in expansion of India-US relations and said India’s Look East policy was complementary to America’s “re-balancing towards Asia”.

Ahead of his trip, Biden had said his visit to India and Singapore was intended to reinforce the White House strategy of ‘rebalancing’ towards Asia and the Pacific.

The Democratic Party politician, who is visiting India with his wife Jill Biden, also called on President Pranab Mukherjee, and met United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

He left for Mumbai Tuesday night on the second leg of his India visit.

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