Relationship with India is important: US

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US Secretary of State John Kerry has sent a message to India that ties between the two nations were "important" and he wants to move past the differences which recently arose over the arrest of an Indian diplomat.

"The Secretary is sending with her (the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal) a message that this relationship is important," State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters during a conference call.

Biswal, the top ranking Obama Administration diplomat responsible for entire South and Central Asia, is on her maiden trip to India in her current position.

"We want to move past disagreements we've had because we have so many issues that are important for us to work closely on. So that is the purpose of her trip. But obviously, she has an expansive itinerary while she's there," Psaki said.

During her India trip this week, Biswal would be travelling to Bangalore and then to New Delhi. "She has a heavy schedule over the next couple of days," she said.

"She's going to meet with government and business leaders in Bangalore to discuss her joint efforts to foster innovation, increase our high-tech and engineering engagement and strengthen US-India economic ties.

"She is also travelling to New Delhi where she will meet with senior Indian officials to discuss a full range of bilateral and regional issues, including our shared defense security and economic engagement," Psaki said.

The State Department spokesperson said that Biswal's visit was "an important trip" for the US.

"We have a broad and strategic partnership with India, and we're a proud partner with India in virtually every field of human endeavor, from solutions to poverty and disease to space exploration and counter-terrorism," Psaki said.

Psaki, in response to a question did not confirm or deny if Biswal would be meeting BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

"We are meeting with a range of officials. And as you know, but it's worth repeating, we don't take a position on the future of leadership in India. Obviously, that's up to the people of India," Psaki said.

Senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, 39, was arrested on December 12 on visa fraud charges, strip-searched and held with criminals, triggering a row between the two countries with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps.

Khobragade was indicted on visa fraud and making false statements by a US grand jury. She returned to India after she was asked to leave the US by the State Department.

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