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Joe Biden likely to meet PM today, to discuss nuclear issues, trade

Jul 23, 2013 10:00 AM IST India India

New Delhi: The United States of America Vice President Joe Biden is likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday. Biden is expected to discuss nuclear issues as well as Afghanistan and cooperation in East Asia with Manmohan Singh. He is also scheduled to meet leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Vice President Hamid Ansari on Tuesday.

The focus of Biden's four-day visit in India is expected to be his talks with businessmen and CEOs in Mumbai on Wednesday.

This is a first official visit by a US Vice-President to India in three decades, Joe Biden arrived in New Delhi on Monday aimed at boosting ties in key areas of trade, energy, defence and security.

Biden, who was received at the airport by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and Indian envoy to the US Nirupama Rao, headed straight to the Gandhi Smriti Bhawan along with his wife Jill, daughter Ashley and son-in-law Howard Krein.

The Vice President spent close to one-and-a-half hours at the memorial during which he and his family were welcomed with a 'khadi' shawl by Mahatma Gandhi's grand daughter Tara Gandhi Bhhattacharjee.

70-year-old Biden, who had visited New Delhi in 2008 as a Senator, wanted to travel to this country in his first term as Vice-President. Incidentally, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is not calling on the US Vice-President.

Biden, while speaking at the prestigious George Washington University last week had said, "One of the reasons why President (Barack) Obama called our relations with India, quote, 'a defining partnership of the century ahead' is that India is increasingly looking east as a force for security and growth in Southeast Asia and beyond".

Biden will fly to Mumbai where he is expected to hold a round table with business leaders and press for stronger intellectual property protection. While trade has grown in recent years, there is still widespread frustration among US business leaders over some trading practices which they term as protectionists. India in turn has been complaining about the US visa regime for IT professionals, including hike in the visa fee.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma were both in Washington last week to pitch for investment and discuss India's readiness to open talks on a bilateral investment treaty. Biden is the senior-most administration official to visit India since President Barack Obama came in 2010.

(with additional information from PTI )