Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has said that deepening of relations with India would be top on her agenda, if elected to the highest post in the United States.
"Deepening and strengthening" of US relations with India, one of the world's oldest and largest democracies, would be top of the agenda if she is elected US President, Clinton said in her 15-minute speech during an Indian-American fund-raiser dinner.
"Together, we have a lot of work to do," she said amidst cheers at the dinner with slogans like "American Ready For Change" and "Hillary Ready to Lead" forming the backdrop. An estimated $2.5 million was collected during the dinner.
"Deepening and strengthening" of US relations with India, one of the world's oldest and largest democracies, would be top of the agenda if she is elected US President, she said in her 15-minute speech.
Without directly referring to the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal now being negotiated between the two countries, she promised to ensure that neither the United States nor its friends remain dependent on the vagaries of foreign oil.
All in praise for the Indian-Americans contribution to the US, Clinton made a special reference to the contribution being made by Indian-American medical professionals in the country's medical system, a remark which attracted cheers from the audience in which a number of doctors were present.
Clinton, who did not mention about rival Barack Obama's campaign criticising her ties with the Indian-Americans, also said she valued the contribution made by the community to her campaign not only in financial terms but also in voluntary work they were doing for her campaign.
She also nostalgically spoke of her visit to India, referring especially to the beauty of Taj Mahal and praised the micro-credit scheme which, she said, is empowering poor women and helping to uplift them.
An estimated $2.5 million were collected in a single night at the fund riser dinner on Friday night where guests paid up to 9,200 dollars per plate and gave Clinton a prolonged standing ovation when she came in for the address.
Sant Singh Chatwal, chairman of the event and co chair of the Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee, said Indian-Americans have so far raised more than $3.5 million and are well on the way to exceed the goal of raising $5 million for the campaign by the year end.
The organisers had originally made arrangements for 1,000 guests but the response was so overwhelming that they scrambled to put in another 200 seats and even then were unable to accommodate all for the sit-in dinner.
Sources close to 'Indian Americans for Hillary Clinton 2008', which organized the event, said this response could be the result of her Obama's campaign's criticism of Clinton's ties with India.
Chatwal said they were focused on making Hillary's campaign a success and to ensure that she wins the election next year.
There were prolonged cheers as Vikram, son of Sant Singh Chatwal, introduced Clinton to the audience as the "next president of the United States".
Criticising the Bush administration's policies, she said when her husband Bill Clinton left the office in 2000, there was surplus in the budget which could have been used profitably.
She would work to restore the financial responsibility as also re-establish partnerships with other nations for achieving economic and humanitarian goals.
Clinton said she knows that difficult challenges lay ahead for the new president but she had clear goals for which she would work.