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US Vice President Cheney Notes Growing US-Indian Ties

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has hailed the growing partnership between the United States and India, saying the two countries share common goals, from the fight against terrorism to the expansion of trade. Cheney addressed a bilateral business council Thursday.

He said the United States and India are committed to combating terrorism, and agree on the best long term approach for doing so.

"The United States and India strongly support the advance of democratic values as the surest way to long term security and peace," the vice president said.

Cheney was speaking at the 31st anniversary leadership summit of the U.S.-India Business Council at the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

He said trade between the two nations has expanded dramatically in recent years, as India has moved to open its economy to foreign trade and investment.

"The U.S. is India's largest trade partner, and we intend to remain so. Many billions of dollars in goods and services flow between the two countries. By itself, India has a middle class of more than 300 million people, more than the entire population of the United States. India is one of the fastest growing markets for American goods and services, and in fact our exports to India grew by more than 30 percent last year alone," he said.

At the same time, the vice president called on India to reduce tariffs on foreign goods and to boost protection for intellectual property.

He noted that many U.S. companies have moved operations overseas to nations like India, leading to what is termed the "outsourcing" of American jobs. Cheney said such job losses lead some in the United States to call for protectionist measures, but asserted that erecting barriers to protect jobs is counterproductive. He said the United States must preserve and strengthen its entrepreneurial spirit so that new jobs are created to replace jobs lost overseas.

Turning to energy matters, the vice president hailed an agreement between Washington and New Delhi on nuclear power. The pact, which has yet to be ratified by the U.S. Congress, would give India access to U.S. civil nuclear technology, while India would open its nuclear power facilities to international inspection.

"Given the forecast for India's increased energy needs in the future, diversifying India's sources of energy is important in relation to the world energy market and to U.S. energy prices. And as the United States begins a serious effort to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, it makes sense to encourage others to do the same. And to do so without slowing modernization, sacrificing economic growth, or bringing needless harm to the environment," he said.

Relations between the United States and India were cool for much of the Cold War, but have warmed considerably in recent years. Some analysts say India's growing economic and diplomatic clout could serve as a counterweight to the influence of another emerging power: China.

Vice President Cheney said U.S.-Indian ties go beyond trade, energy, and international politics. He said a human connection exists as well, noting that 80,000 Indians attend school in the United States and more than two million people of Indian origin call America home.