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Obama in Mumbai Calls India Market of the Future

President Barack Obama seated with, from left to right, Anil Ambani of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani, General Electric's Jeffrey Immelt, Boeing's Christopher Chadwick, Bhupendra Khansagra of India's Spice Jet, as he holds a roundtable discussion with CEO
President Barack Obama seated with, from left to right, Anil Ambani of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani, General Electric's Jeffrey Immelt, Boeing's Christopher Chadwick, Bhupendra Khansagra of India's Spice Jet, as he holds a roundtable discussion with CEO

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President Barack Obama says further opening India's markets to U.S. exports is crucial to job growth in the United States, and to economic progress for both countries.  Mr. Obama spoke to American and Indian business executives on the first day of a three-day visit to strengthen economic, political and security ties with India, as part of a 10-day Asian tour.

Mr. Obama met with Indian and U.S. business entrepreneurs, and participated in a roundtable with U.S. executives gathered here as part one of the largest-ever foreign business missions ever undertaken.

In remarks to a business summit organized by the U.S. - India Business Council, the president described the U.S. - India relationship as one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.

"The United States sees Asia, and especially India, as a market of the future," he said. "We don't simply welcome your rise as a nation and a people, we ardently support it.  We want to invest in it.  And I'm here because I believe that in our inter-connected world, increased commerce between the U.S and India can be and will be a win-win proposition for both nations."

Almost simultaneously, the White House released a list of business deals worth about $15 billion, described as having been finalized or in the process of being completed, which it said support more than 53,000 jobs in the U.S.

These include preliminary agreement for India's purchase of 10 Boeing C-17 military transport aircraft, a $2.7 billion purchase of 30 Boeing 737-800 passenger jets, and an $822 million deal with General Electric to supply engines for Indian light combat aircraft.

Also on the list - a deal for General Electric to supply advanced gas and steam turbines for power generation in India, and the supply of U.S-manufactured locomotives to India.

In an expected though significant move, President Obama also announced an easing of U.S. controls on exports to India, saying Washington will support India's full membership in four multilateral non-proliferation groups, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, Mike Froman, told reporters India agreed to adopt the requirements of all four groups. Three of four Indian space and defense organizations would be removed from a U.S. list of restricted entities.

Earlier, the president and his wife, Michelle viewed a marble memorial to victims of the November 26th, 2008 terrorist attacks that killed 166 people, and signed a guest book at the site.

On the roof of the hotel, overlooking the historic Gateway of India, Mr. Obama said the Taj and those who died there became the symbol of the strength and resilience of the Indian people.  Mr. Obama said his visit should send a clear message.

"We visit here to send a very clear message, that in our determination to give our people a future of security and prosperity, the United States and India stand united," he said.

In remarks to media on Saturday, a group of U.S. executives said they hope the president's visit will further open the Indian market to American businesses.

Dave Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell, Inc., was one of those responding to reporters asking how increased U.S. sales in India will create jobs in the United States.

"We tend to look at this as a zero sum game, that if we are growing here [in India] that means that something is not happening there.  That's not the case.  Economics is not a zero-sum game.  So we end up growing everywhere and as you grow everywhere you start to add jobs," he said.

Tight security is in force in Mumbai, and in New Delhi, President Obama's next stop on Sunday.  

Mr. Obama will also visit Indonesia, and attend the regional economic summits of the G20 and APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) in Seoul, South Korea and Yokohama, Japan.

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