US President Barack Obama's decision to have Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the very first state visitor of his administration was no accident, according to a senior US official.
"I think it's no accident that President Obama decided that the very first state visitor of his administration would be Prime Minister Manmohan Singh," US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert Blake, said at an event in Washington on Thursday.
"It not only shows the deep respect that the president has for the prime minister, but also the respect... the optimism that he has for the future of our relationship," he said speaking at an India Day event celebrating decades of partnership between India and Honeywell, a Fortune 500 US company.
Describing ties with India as one of America's most important partnerships in the 21st century, Blake said during Manmohan Singh's upcoming state visit the two countries would unveil a common vision of the future with a desire to work together on all the big challenges that face the world.
"There is going to be ... our two countries announcing a common vision of the future and our desire to work together on all the big challenges that face the world," he said listing food security, agriculture, climate change, green technology, clean energy, education, science and technology and "many many other things".
Commending Honeywell for its commitment to a long-term partnership with India, the official said: "We too in the Obama administration are forging a long term partnership with India."
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to India in July, Blake recalled "for the first time we established a very high level strategic dialogue, as she said, conversing on a number of pillars that cover virtually everything you might think of in terms of how our two countries may cooperate together".
"The most important part of our relationship is that increasingly governments matter less and less and it's more about empowering the private sector and our businesses, our scientists, educators so that they can all work together to achieve great things," he said.
"So that's what our partnership is all about," Blake said adding he was so "happy to see that a great company like Honeywell is really in the forefront of tasking advantage of those new opportunities."
"We have great optimism about our future partnership with India and we see it as one of our most important partnerships in the 21st century and I think Honeywell shares that judgement," the official said.
Speaking at the event, India's ambassador to the US Meera Shankar said both the new Obama administration in Washington as also the Indian government in Delhi "are equally committed to take our relationship to the next level".
"We have had a number of ministerial visits ranging in both directions covering areas ranging from culture, terrorism to education leading up to the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the first state visit to be hosted by the Obama administration.
"Let there be no doubt of the shared vision and the determination of the leadership in both countries," she said.
"Honeywell's presence in India is profitable for the company, for us and for the United States," she said. "We are gathered here not so much to celebrate the profit but the potential of mutual inspiration and innovation that this represents. Let us explore and let us encourage it."