Indian Prime Minister Monmohan Singh makes his first visit Monday to the White House. While in Washington, Mr. Singh will also address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Both events signal a warming of relations between India and the United States.
|India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh interacts with Indian army soldiers in remote Ladakh district in northwest Kashmir |
Just last month a new U.S.-India defense agreement was signed, the result of several meetings between Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, setting the stage for Prime Minister Singh's meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday.
Many analysts, including Sanjay Puri, Executive Director of the U.S.-India Political Action Committee, have high expectations for the White House meeting. "You're going to see a lot of things come out of this visit, because there's been a lot of work beforehand, in terms of energy dialogue, in terms of technology, in terms of the restructuring of the United Nations, in terms of joint production and defense. So we're talking about things that were never, ever on the table before, that are getting discussed, and decisions being made, and you're going to see some major announcements come out on that."
Prime Minister Monmohan Singh is scheduled to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.
It is a rare event for foreign leaders, but foreign policy analyst Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution in Washington says there was widespread support for Mr. Singh's speech. "Apparently the initiative came from congressmen and senators themselves. And I think that shows that really, nowadays, unlike the past, there is now a deep resonance of India in the United States."
Mr. Puri believes Prime Minister Singh's address to the U.S. Congress is a further opportunity for India-U.S. dialogue.
Sanjay Puri adds, "So, he gets to speak to members of Congress, he gets to speak to the members of the Senate. He really gets to address the country in terms of this relationship, in terms of where India is going and where India is coming from. And I think that becomes very, very relevant."
Some officials agree Prime Minister Singh's visit is coming at the right time.
Congressman Joe Wilson points to the growing relationship between the two countries, "It is evidenced by trade growth between our countries, 23 percent in the last year, imports and exports. We're talking about a lot of money -- jobs created in India, jobs created in the United States. We have joint military exercises; air, land and sea for the first time. And we are working together in the war on terrorism."
Despite these developments, there are still disagreements between the two countries. India has refused to send troops to Iraq, and despite being a nuclear power, it also has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Despite some differences, President Bush is expected to visit New Delhi in the near future.