US Asst. Secretary of State Nisha Biswal to visit India on March 4

Washington DC: In a sign of thaw after the Devyani Khobragade affair, America’s new point person for South Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal is making her first trip to India next week “to further broaden and deepen” the US-India relationship.

During her March 4-6 visit, “Biswal will seek to further broaden and deepen the US-India relationship, which President Barack Obama has called ‘one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century’,” the State Department announced Friday.

Biswal, the first Indian-American to hold the job of assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, was earlier scheduled to visit India in January.

But the diplomatic spat over the arrest of Indian diplomat Khobragade forced her to cancel the trip.

Biswal, who begins her visit from Bangalore, will meet government and business leaders in Bangalore March 4 “to discuss our joint efforts to foster innovation, increase our high-tech and engineering engagement, and strengthen US-India economic ties”.

Biswal will then travel to New Delhi, where she will meet senior Indian officials to discuss “the full range of bilateral and regional issues, including our shared defence, security, and economic engagement across the Indo-Pacific corridor”, the announcement said.

On March 6, Biswal will deliver remarks on the US-India economic relationship at the American Center in New Delhi.

In advance of her trip, Biswal said: “The breadth and quality of our strategic partnership with India attests to the underlying strength and salience of our relations.”

“The US is proud to partner with India on virtually every field of human endeavour, from innovative solutions to poverty and disease to space exploration, from counterterrorism and security cooperation to higher education and people-to-people ties,” she said.

“I look forward to discussing these and other issues that are vital to the well-being of our two peoples,” Biswal said.