US firms to sign large contracts on Obama’s India visit

Washington, Oct 28 (IANS) US companies hope to consummate some large contracts during President Barack Obama’s trip to India in early November, according to a top aide.

There are ‘a number of large contracts’ between American and Indian companies, and ‘we hope to consummate some of these deals,’ National security aide Mike Froman said Wednesday at a briefing ahead of the trip.

American CEOs will not be in India as part of the American delegation. The first day will focus on Obama’s message on economics, increasing exports and jobs, he said.

Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India will probably talk about climate change during Obama’s visit, he said.

Asked about the specificity of trade issues, Froman says there’s an ‘ongoing dialogue’ between the two administrations.

National security aide Ben Rhodes said Obama will speak with entrepreneurs and American CEOs at a summit with the US-India Business Council. He’ll then make a speech, ‘the centrepiece of the day,’ he says.

Obama also will go to the Taj Hotel to commemorate the Mumbai terrorist attacks and to the Gandhi museum.

On the second day in India, Obama will visit a Mumbai school and participate in Diwali celebrations. Then he’ll go to a town hall with university students, where he’ll focus on partnerships, agriculture and food security. Obama will highlight India’s successes as the world’s largest democracy, Rhodes said.

On Day three, Obama will go to New Delhi to have a ‘private dinner’ with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rhodes says.

The next day, Obama will lay a wreath at Mahatma Gandhi’s Samadhi at Rajghat, then meet with Manmohan Singh and give a news conference. He’ll also address the Indian parliament before going to a state dinner. On Nov 9, he’ll go to Jakarta.

Froman said the US has a ‘very strong and growing bilateral relationship’ with India. Indian companies are the second-fastest growing investors in the US market for exports, he said.

Under Secretary Bill Burns described Obama’s visit as the biggest one of his presidency, saying it ‘underscores the significance’ of the relationship.

‘The growth in our partnership’ is about a ‘deepening connection’ between the two societies, he said.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama’s trip to India is ‘basically economic in purpose’.

Asked why Obama isn’t going to visit a Sikh temple that would require him to cover his head, Ben Rhodes said: ‘It’s a big country.’

‘We can never do as many events as we’d like to,’ he said. ‘We got a very packed three days.’ He added, ‘We arrived at the schedule we arrived at’ to make it a ‘successful trip’.

‘The decision we made was driven by the interests of time,’ he said. Rhodes said Obama always tries to have a ‘cultural stop’ on his trips, noting Diwali events and visiting Gandhi Samadhi.

He might go to the Golden Temple on another trip, he says: ‘Certainly we wouldn’t rule out any visit in the future.’

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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