‘Partnership between India and America never mattered more to the rest of the world'

The visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to India will be an “extraordinary milestone” in India-U.S. relations, as never before have the two countries “mattered more to one another,” William. J. Burns, the country's Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, said here on Friday.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to visit the country next month.

“Never has there been a moment when partnership between India and America mattered more to the rest of the world,” Mr. Burns said.

Unique perspective

Describing Kolkata as “India's window to the East,” Mr. Burns said the U.S. and India had an increasing strategic stake in cooperation in Asia and the Pacific and that the city “offers a unique perspective on East Asia's significance for both of us.”

Mr. Burns, visiting the country as a part of the official U.S. delegation ahead of Mr. Obama's visit, said he was happy to be in Kolkata as India-U.S. relations were not just about relations between capitals, but also about relations between societies in which all Indians and all Americans had a stake.

He said the relations between the two countries were not just about “high politics and high technology, but also about shared values – about our common commitment to basic decency, service to society's poorest and most vulnerable, and the dignity of all human beings.”

During the day, Mr. Burns visited Mother House, the international headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity. He paid homage to Mother Teresa and visited her grave on the premises. He also visited the museum and the rooms where she had lived.

“Shared values”

Speaking of the “shared values” between the two countries, he said: “Nowhere have these values been embodied more vividly than in the life and example of Mother Teresa… Her example inspires all of us to work together to fight poverty and intolerance, and to improve the human condition wherever we can.”

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