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Treasury Secretary Urges India to Press Economic Reform

Treasury Secretary John Snow is urging India to press ahead with economic reforms, especially in its financial sector. Mr. Snow is in India on a visit aimed at boosting trade and investment ties.

Treasury Secretary John Snow says economic cooperation between India and the United States "has never been better."

Mr. Snow spoke to reporters in New Delhi where he met senior government officials to review the growing commercial relationship between the two countries.

He said India has taken steps to liberalize its financial markets, but needs to do more to allow greater scope for foreign ownership in the banking and insurance industry. He says this would be in the country's best interests.

"We commend you for that and urge you on with those initiatives because they have huge potential for lifting growth rates, and helping address the issue that I know is much on your mind ... reducing poverty levels, creating employment, stronger job numbers," Mr. Snow said.

The two sides also discussed how India can improve its investment climate to attract more American private financing for infrastructure - seen as a huge bottleneck to further expansion of its growing economy.

India has attracted more foreign businesses in recent years, and is seen as having the potential to become a major economy.

Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram also expressed optimism about increasing engagement with the United States.

"Economic cooperation between the two countries is growing, it is stronger every year and I believe it will get stronger in the future too," he said.

In a joint statement following a meeting of the India-U.S. Financial and Economic Forum, both countries said global economic performance remains sound, although rising energy prices, tightening of financial market conditions, and uneven growth in the world present a challenge. The two sides also emphasized the need to combat terrorist financing and money-laundering operations.

Mr. Snow also said the United States is committed to reducing its fiscal deficit, and to increasing domestic savings.

He came to the Indian capital from Bombay, where he met some of the country's top industrial leaders.