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Geithner in India to boost Indo-US economic ties

April 05, 2010 12:23 IST

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has left for New Delhi to launch the Indo-US Economic and Financial Partnership which according to him would set the pace and put and economic relationship between the two countries on a new trajectory.

"The newly-formed Partnership aims to strengthen bilateral engagement and understanding on macroeconomic, financial sector and infrastructure-related issues," said the US treasury department as Geithner left for India accompanied by the Federal Reserve vice chairman Donald Kohn and a number of other senior officials from the administration on Sunday evening.

On Monday, Geithner is scheduled to meet his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi, and the two leaders would lead their respective countries in a discussion of bilateral and global macroeconomic and financial-sector issues.

The discussions would be carried forward in greater depth in a number of working groups that will take place in the afternoon with a number of Indian officials and US senior officials.

Geithner and Mukherjee are scheduled to address a joint press conference later in the day.

In the afternoon, Geithner would have discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

The day is likely to conclude with a moderated discussion with Ahluwalia before an audience of leading public officials and business representatives, focus on post-crisis prospects for financial and economic reform, followed by a small dinner with Indian thought and opinion leaders.

On Wednesday, Geithner will travel to Mumbai to hold a roundtable discussion with US financial companies and Indian entrepreneurs to explore successful strategies and business models being utilised in India to expand banking services to under-serviced areas.

In his pre-trip interview with a group of Indian media, Geithner said "India is economically and strategically important" for the US and the main purpose of his visit to New Delhi and Mumbai is to 'establish a long-term' relationship with India.

"One reason I am going to India is to get a better sense of what is happening there -- both in the economy and the broaden reform process in the financial sector and elsewhere. As always I am going to make sure that the leaders in Indian get to understand directly from me how we are managing are challenges here and how thing feel here," he said.

"I think that in anytime we have these kinds of conversations with a major partner, we spend a lot of time talking about the basic economic challenges in both countries.

In the India case, it is more important and a little different cause not just because India is so important to us economically and strategically but it is going to be important because we're at a point in the broaden G20 progress, it is very important that the two countries work closely together in trying to set the agenda of reform in that processes," he said.

There is a huge amount of promise in that framework for cooperation of international, economic and financial issues, he added.

Geithner, who lived in New Delhi from 1968 to 1973 when his father was posted there as the deputy resident representative for the Ford Foundation, said he considers this a great gift for him.

Vividly recollecting his days of stay in New Delhi as he travelled to various parts of India along with his father, Geithner said: "I grew up with my parents friends who were people involved in development at a time when it was a great era of optimism and development."

Geithner said it was a time of really great durable achievements in the broaden development area so it was a nice thing to be exposed to early in life.

The treasury secretary said as a young child he was able to see how much of India lives to not just in extreme poverty but in a country with India's great opened dynamism tradition is a great gift for an American.

"To watch and see how the impact America had on the world for good and sometimes not so good is a great gift to have as a young kid," he said.

Geithner says it is in New Delhi that he learned to play cricket and baseball. In fact, his office provided to the Indian media a rare and exclusive picture of his playing baseball in New Delhi as a kid.

"I was lucky, I learned not just to play cricket but I learned to play baseball," he said; but was quick to add he can no longer play cricket.

After he left India in 1973, Geithner has had to go back to India about four times since -- all for official or business trip.

"I have not spent very much time there and I have not travelled extensively since then," he said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington