Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday began the third day of his four-day India trip in the financial capital of Mumbai to promote U.S.-India economic ties.
The Mumbai visit comes a day after Biden met with India's top leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the capital New Delhi.
The importance of Biden's India visit lies in the fact it comes on the heels of a similar visit by the new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and is designed to promote closer economic and strategic ties with the South Asian country of 1.2 billion, which boasts of one of the world's largest remaining markets.
White House press secretary Jay Carney, noting the important role of India in Washington's policy deliberations, said at his media briefing Tuesday the "message the vice president is carrying in his meetings with Indian officials, is that we want to continue to enhance our economic and strategic engagement with India."
"There are enormous opportunities for our two countries to work together and to work together even more closely than we have as this relationship has evolved in a positive direction now for so many years."
Carney also pointed out Biden and President Barack Obama "highly value our relationship with India, and are looking for ways to make it even stronger and more cooperative."
Biden's visit to Mumbai, where it was raining heavily, included speaking on the U.S.-India partnership at the Bombay Stock Exchange and meeting with top Indian business, trade and investment leaders at the iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel.
Carney had said, "When it comes to economic growth, trade, energy and climate change, as well as security issues and education issues, there's a lot that the vice president is discussing in India."
Last week before leaving for India, Biden in a major speech in Washington on the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific rebalancing policy said Washington is engaging directly with India as it makes some fundamental choices. He said U.S.-India bilateral trade in the past 13 years has grown five-fold to nearly $100 billion, adding there is "no reason, that if our countries make the right choices, trade cannot grow fivefold or more."
Biden also has lauded the Indian government's recent decisions to liberalize caps on foreign direct investment in certain sectors, which the United States has long been seeking. However, he said much work still remains to be done on a wide range of issues, including the bilateral civil nuclear cooperation, a bilateral investment treaty and policies protecting innovation. Biden, as U.S. senator, had strongly supported the civilian nuclear deal.
"But we believe doing -- going with an open mind and listening, as well as making our case, we believe it can be done," he said.
On India's side, there is concern about U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as that might encourage the Taliban to return even as New Delhi's economic involvement in that country is growing. Ahead of his trip, Biden in an interview with the Times of India said the United States strongly supports the role India has played in Afghanistan.
There is also concern about U.S. policy toward Pakistan, India's main rival.
The New York Times has reported part of Biden's mission is to convince India Pakistan is not the United States' favorite friend in South Asia.