With an intent of deepening the bilateral strategic partnership, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has arrived in Washington for a Summit meeting with President Barack Obama, saying that India needs US on its side at a time when added thrust is being given to developmental programmes back home.
Dr Singh and Obama will review the status of the relationship and chart a course for the future, particularly in the areas of defence, security, trade and investment and civil nuclear cooperation. India's concerns over the proposed changes in the US visa norms will be flagged by the Prime Minister as these are going to hurt the Indian IT persons.
This will be the third Summit meeting between the two leaders and they will look at ways to add content to the ties.
On his arrival in Washington, Dr Singh described the US as an "important strategic partner" and noted that the two countries have taken several steps to widen and deepen this partnership in diverse ways.
During this visit, the two sides will review the progress that has been made and also what further can be done to give "added meaning and content to this partnership," he told reporters at the Andrews Air Force Base where he was received by acting deputy chief of protocol Rosemarie Pauli.
"The United States is one of our most important strategic partner and during President Obama's regime, we have taken several steps to widen and deepen this partnership in diverse fields. And during the present visit, we will review the progress that has been made and also what further can be done to give added meaning and content to this partnership," Dr Singh said.
He said US is one of India's most important trading partners, important provider of investment and technology support for India's development and "we need the United States on our side as we move to give new added thrust to our development programmes."
The Prime Minister said during his meeting with Obama, the two sides will review the international situation, particularly with regard to international economic situation, situation in the region, South East Asia, the Middle East, West Asia and in all these areas.
"We would discuss ways and means in which India and the United States can keep each other informed about the concern of the other party," he said.
The Prime Minister is accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.
Earlier in the day, the White House said Obama is "looking forward" to the meeting with Dr Singh at the Oval Office on Friday.
Following the meeting, the two leaders would issue a joint statement in a brief media interaction. Thereafter, Obama would host Dr Singh for a lunch.
First Lady Michelle Obama would be hosting Kaur for a private tea at the White House.
Ahead of the visit, the White House praised the role of Dr Singh in transforming the India-US relationship.
"From the US perspective, we have made a strategic bet on relationship with India and the strategic bet that would carry us forward in the next century," a senior administration official said.
The purpose of "short working visit" is both to reflect and appreciate the decade of this transformation and the commitments of the leaders in the government to the strategic partnership, the official said.
It is also to "set out a road map for the path ahead" into the next century, the senior official said.
Dr Singh is scheduled to leave Washington for New York immediately after his meeting with Obama.
In New York, Dr Singh would address the UN General Assembly session on Saturday and is expected to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on September 29.
He is scheduled to return home on Tuesday.
Photograph: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com