Trade ties on agenda as Biden begins 4-day visit


US Vice-President Joe Biden arrived in the Capital on a four-day visit on Monday — the first official visit by a US vice-president in almost three decades. In the backdrop of India's FDI liberalisation agenda, Biden is expected to push for deeper economic engagement.

Official sources said the focus will be on four key areas — economic and trade ties, energy and climate change, defence cooperation and a wide range of regional co-operation. Ahead of Biden's visit, the US today welcomed India's decision to increase FDI in key sectors like defence, telecom and insurance.

Sources said India will convey its willingness to hold "technical-level consultations" on the Indo-US bilateral investment protection agreement (BIPA). India is in the process of re-evaluating its template for BIPA, an issue being pushed by several countries including US and Russia. New Delhi will also communicate the possibility of holding the trade policy forum meeting later this year.

During his visit, his first since assuming office in 2009, Biden is scheduled to meet President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj. He is slated to go to Mumbai on July 24-25, where is expected to lay out an "ambitious" agenda for the decade ahead in a policy speech at the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Three regional issues — Syria, Afghanistan and Iran — are likely to dominate the discussions. While the nuclear deal will also be part of the consultations, no breakthrough is expected during this visit.

The Prime Minister's visit to the US in September-October this year is also set to be discussed.

In 1984, then US Vice-President George Bush Sr had arrived on an official visit. In 1991, then Vice-President Dan Quayle attended Rajiv Gandhi's funeral, but there were no official talks.

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