NEW DELHI // The US vice president, Joe Biden, arrived in India yesterday on a trip that will focus on boosting trade and regional security ties and strengthening a strategic partnership that has languished in recent years.
Mr Biden's four-day visit, which will include a meeting with the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, is viewed as a major step in promoting Barack Obama's focus on forging strong partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region aimed at counterbalancing China's power.
Mr Biden and Indian leaders were expected to discuss hurdles to trade and restrictions on US companies doing business in the Indian marketplace.
The US vice president's first stop after his arrival was a ceremonial visit to a museum dedicated to India's independence hero, Mahatma Gandhi.
During formal talks today, Mr Biden and Indian officials will focus on ways to expand bilateral trade that stands at US$100 billion (Dh367bn), officials said.
In Washington on Thursday, Mr Biden noted that trade between the countries had increased five-fold over the past 13 years, but there was no reason it should not expand five times as much again.
Despite increasing trade, US business groups have complained about the slow pace of economic reform in India and have urged New Delhi to open its markets further. The Indian government in recent months has loosened rules governing foreign investment in some areas of the economy.
American businesses have been pressuring the Obama administration to press India for stronger intellectual-property protection. New Delhi is expected to raise concerns about proposals in the US Congress that would curb visas for high-tech Indian workers.
India and the US will also discuss regional security, including efforts to end the conflict in Afghanistan.
Washington increasingly views India as a partner in developing Afghanistan, where New Delhi has provided $2bn in assistance. Washington also wants India to play a more active role in training Afghan security forces as the US and its Nato allies withdraw combat forces next year.
"Our goal is to help tie Asia-Pacific nations together - from India to the Americas- through strong alliances, institutions and partnerships," Mr Biden said.
Mr Biden is accompanied during the visit by his wife, Jill, who will visit a US-supported public health programme in Agra and then tour the nearby Taj Mahal.
The Bidens will then head to Mumbai, where the vice president will meet business leaders before heading for Singapore on Thursday.