US delegation to soon meet UP officials on smart city: Verma

USINPAC-Richard VermaUS Ambassador to India Richard Rahul Verma today metChief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and said an American delegation would soon meet the state officials for a detailed discussion on developing Allahabad as a smart city.

Verma also met Governor Ram Naik during his visit and expressed his happiness that Prime Minister NarendraModi’s US visit and President Barack Obama visit to India has contributed to a “fresh start” in the relationship between the countries.

The US Ambassador said that America wants to increase economic and trade relationship with India and would also assist India in the education sector.

He said that the US was working on developing smart cities in UP and an American delegation would soon meet the state officials for a detailed discussion.

During his meeting with Akhilesh, Verma expressed his willingness to strengthen and increase bilateral ties with India, specially with UP.

The ambassador said a number of US entrepreneurs were interested in investing in the UP and enquired about sectors suitable for investment.

Akhilesh said that there were immense possibilities of investment in the state, adding, the government has implemented pro-investment policies under which a number of facilities were being provided to the entrepreneurs.

The chief minister said that US investors could participate in sectors like agriculture, agro-processing, waste management and infrastructure development.

He assured the US ambassador that the UP government would extend all support and help.

Naik said people from India want to make good relationship with the US.

The Governor said that the state has immense opportunities to attract tourists and the government was implementing new schemes to promote this sector.

Naik also presented Verma with a picture of historical Roomi Darwaza and a book ‘Birds of Raj Bhawan’.

On his first visit to Lucknow after taking over as the ambassador this January, Verma would visit Isabella Thoburn College tomorrow.

After meeting with the students and faculty, he would also visit the American Corner on the campus.

He is scheduled to meet several top leaders in the fields of education, politics and culture during his visit to the city.

Source: Business Standard

Indian diaspora in US organising grand reception for PM Narendra Modi

Modi In USThe Indian community in the US is planning to host a mega reception for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will travel to San Francisco after addressing a United Nations summit on sustainable development on September 25. About 500 Indian-American organisations have joined hands to host a grand reception for Modi in San Jose, Silicon Valley, on September 27, Rakhi Israni, spokesperson of Indo-American Community of West Coast (IACW) said in a statement.

“Prime Minister Modi has done a superb job in his first year in office, and it is evident by the public’s response to the upcoming event how excited the Indian diaspora is about the future of India,” the statement said. Online process for registration of reception’s organisers has been completed, it said. The United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda will be held from September 25 to 27 and will be convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly. Modi is expected to address the gathering on September 25 and then travel to San Francisco, becoming the fourth Indian premier to visit the US’ West Coast.

His visit to San Francisco would also revive — after a gap of four decades with the exception of the former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao in 1994 — the post-independence tradition of Indian prime ministers visiting the US cities other than New York or Washington DC.

The thriving Indian diaspora in the US, in particular those on the West Coast and the Silicon Valley has welcomed Modi’s decision to visit San Francisco. Massive preparations are on to accord a grand welcome to him at the SAP Center, one of the largest indoor stadium in the Silicon Valley, known as the tech hub of the world. The event is expected to be attended by an around 18,000-strong audience.

“The reception is timed around the scheduling of many high impact meetings and programs, all of which stand to promote the shared ideals of innovation and entrepreneurship that define both Vibrant India under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and Silicon Valley,” the IACW statement said.

The visit shall also highlight the contributions of India and Indian-Americans to the technology and clean energy sectors, it said. The PM is likely to visit the offices of Internet giant Google. In California, he will make a speech at the famous Stanford University. Modi had given his maiden address to the UN General Assembly last year and had then travelled to Washington to meet US President Barack Obama.


Source:  The Indian Express

Make in India: US offers to jointly manufacture fighter jets with India

USINPAC- make-in-india-us-offers-to-jointly-manufacture-fighter-jets-with-indiaNEW DELHI: The US can help India fill a key gap in its defence architecture by collaborating with it to build the planes that are needed to safeguard the country’s airspace, ambassador Richard Verma said. He also said that the two countries had taken joint action against a “high-profile hacking group” operating in India.

“India faces a critical shortage of frontline fighter aircraft to patrol its skies and keep its airspace safe,” the US ambassador to India said at an Observer Research Foundation event in Delhi on Friday. “Expanding our bilateral defence cooperation could help address that challenge. I see no reason why the United States and India cannot build fighter aircraft together, right here in India.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may meet President Barack Obama for the second time this year during his trip to the US in September. ET reported August 10 that this may take place on Modi’s way back from San Francisco as the two leaders seek to enlarge bilateral ties that have gained significant momentum since the Obama’s trip to India in January.

If it happens, this meeting will take place ahead of the first Indo-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue in Washington. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman will lead India at the dialogue, which was upgraded to a strategic and commercial dialogue from a bilateral strategic dialogue at January’s Obama-Modi meeting.

Verma said Friday that the US and India have been pioneers in the digital domain and should continue to work together to combat threats through information sharing. “For example, we recently provided information on a high-profile hacking group operating from India, enabling our two countries to take concerted action against these threats,” Verma said.

India, US first strategic & commercial dialogue on September 22

USINPAC Strategic and Commercial DialogueNEW DELHI: Aiming to boost bilateral trade five-fold to $500 billion, India and the US will hold the first composite ‘strategic & commercial dialogue’ next month focused on defence and energy as well as infrastructure and investments.

Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia today met the US Under Secretary for Commerce, Stefan Selig, as part of an inter- ministerial discussion to deliberate on the agenda, structure and deliverables for the first ministerial level meeting of the elevated ‘Strategic and Commercial Dialogue’ to be held in Washington on September 22, the Commerce & Industry said in a release.

The issues that are likely to be taken up for discussion at ‘strategic & commercial dialogue’ (S&CD) from both sides were deliberated at length under the aegis of each of the six Joint Working Groups, it said.

The dialogue steered by the External Affairs Ministry and the India-US Commercial Dialogue in existence since 2000 and steered by Department of Commerce were clubbed as one dialogue under the Delhi Declaration released during President Obamas visit to India in January.

The composite dialogue would be co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister and the Commerce and Industry Minister from Indian side and US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker from the American side.

Earlier in the day, Selig said these dialogues will revolve around four areas — ease of doing business; innovation and entrepreneurship; smart cities with a specific focus on renewable energy, and harmonisation of standards to increase trade.

“The S&CD will be the signature, annual dialogue…It will serve as a high-level meeting between senior government and Cabinet officials as well as an ongoing, sustainable forum for policy discussions,” he added.

This commercial track would be a platform for both short-term and long-term deliverables, he said, adding that S&CD would focus on not only securing near-term trade and investment outcome, but areas of long-term collaboration.

“These steps can also be seen as four ambitious and important goals. The first goal is perhaps the most ambitious: to increase bilateral trade five-fold from $100 billion today to $500 billion annually,” he added.

The US holds a similar strategic and economic dialogue with China.

Source: The Economic Times

US May Discontinue CFS Payment to Pakistan Beyond 2015

obamaISLAMABAD: The United States may stop paying millions of dollars annually to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) after 2015, a media report said today.

CSF future was part of discussion at the 23rd Defence Consultative Group Meeting (DCG)-Interim Progress Review (IPR) yesterday between Pakistan and a US delegation led by principal Deputy Secretary of Defence Kelly Magsamen.

Pakistan wanted extension in CSF due to continuing challenges but the US was not ready to continue it due to changing priorities in the context of new challenges in Middle Eastern and threats by ISIS, the Dawn reported.

Under the CSF arrangement, the US reimbursed Pakistan for operations and maintenance costs incurred in direct support of its operations in Afghanistan.

Since 2001, the US has reimbursed USD 13 billion to Pakistan, which is the largest recipient of the fund.

The arrangement was supposed to end with the completion of the drawdown in December 2014, but the US government through legislation extended the programme for another year.

The extended programme, which came with extra conditions, allowed reimbursement of up to USD 1 billion.

Pakistan had in 2014 lobbied for conversion of the CSF into a ‘Stability Support Fund’ after changing some of its parameters.

The US administration initially looked convinced about the proposal, but it couldn’t materialise due to Pakistan’s failure to pursue the matter at the political level.

Additionally,  the US needed to realise that ISIS was also posing a serious threat to this region.

Pakistan needs sustained assistance for continuation of operations as well as rehabilitation of the displaced people.

About two million people have been displaced because of counter-militancy operations and they are now being rehabilitated at a cost of Rs 100 billion.

Source: The New Indian Express