US can play key role to help India address challenges: Biswal

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Ahead of visits by top American diplomats to bolster economic and strategic ties with the new Indian government, the US has said it can play a key role to help India address challenges in priority areas such as defence, infrastructure and foreign investment.

"In all the areas that the Modi government has identified as priorities, we think the US, including our businesses and universities, can play an important role in helping address the challenges India faces and creating opportunities that benefit both countries," said Nisha Biswal, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia.

Her comments came as Secretary of State John Kerry is set to visit New Delhi on July 31 for the next round of annual India-US Strategic Dialogue.

"We expect that the strategic dialogue will kick off a series of cabinet and sub-cabinet-level visits throughout the late summer and fall, culminating in the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Washington at the invitation of the President," Biswal said.

A week after Deputy Secretary of State William Burns held talks with Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi, Biswal, who was present at the meeting, exuded confidence that the US can work in a strong and collaborative partnership with the new government.

"The Modi government has identified infrastructure, manufacturing, modernising the military, energy security, attracting greater foreign investment, and expanding access to skills training and education as its key priorities," she said.

Biswal said Modi by inviting leaders from the SAARC countries for his swearing-in ceremony signalled that India will play a greater role in its immediate neighbourhood and across the Indo-Pacific region.

She said a strong India will play a critical role in the coming decades in shaping the Asian landscape, and the US partnership with New Delhi will play an increasingly important role in that context.

"If India is to achieve its economic and strategic potential, it must overcome the myriad economic and governance challenges it is facing including slow growth, energy shortages and flagging foreign investment.

"With a solid foundation to work from, our bilateral engagements over the course of the next several months will reinforce India-US strategic, economic and people-to-people ties."

Biswal also underlined India's potential in enhancing economic ties and peace in the neighbourhood.

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