The US midterm election result has been a major setback for Barack Obama but not for India-US ties as New Delhi gets ready to host the US president on his first foreign trip after the domestic debacle.
With Obama landing in Mumbai on Saturday, India is hopeful his visit will be an “important milestone in elevating global strategic partnership to a new level”, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said on Thursday.
That apart, the easing of nuclear technology sanctions and cooperation in the fields of agriculture, health, education and space will form the transactional side of the visit.
With the political climate in the US having changed after the Republican rout in the polls, Rao stressed this would not impact the India-US relationship, which enjoys “bipartisan support” in that country.
In fact, New Delhi may have reason to cheer. The House of Representatives' foreign affairs committee's Democrat chairman Howard Berman — who had opposed the nuclear deal — will be replaced by Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, co-chair of the congressional caucus on India.
Also, two-time chair of the India-caucus, Republican Ed Royce, will helm the House sub-committee on terrorism, non-proliferation and trade.
Listing out the expectations from the Obama visit, Rao said it would be an "opportunity to consolidate our relationship".
"Our prime minister looks forward to continuing his extremely productive dialogue with President Obama on a range of issues, including the global economic situation, the threat of terrorism, challenges in our neighbourhood, and our shared goals of sustained security, stability and prosperity in Asia," she added.
Stressing on the Indian contribution to the American economy, the foreign secretary said: "According to US officials, India is the fastest growing source of foreign direct investment in the US. They are creating, saving or supporting tens of thousands of jobs in the US."
"India's defence acquisitions and major purchases in the energy and aviation sectors, for example, are contributing to the US economy," she added.
Rao also played down the differences between the two sides — on issues such as outsourcing and the cap on H-1B visas. Asked about Obama's evasive answers on US support for the Indian demand for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, she refused to "draw any hasty conclusions" on what the president's visit may hold on this count.