West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday that the United States was keen on investments in the State and it was ready to offer all kinds of help in the “changed political situation.” She was told that the U.S. was keen to look at West Bengal as a “partner State.”
The Chief Minister described her meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Writers' Building here as “constructive, creative and concrete.”
Ms. Banerjee pointed out that so far there had been no investments from the U.S. in the State owing to the political situation that prevailed.
Criticising attempts by certain quarters to make “political comments” on Ms. Clinton's visit, she said the visit has opened up opportunities to “rebuild the relationship” between the U.S. and West Bengal.
A press release issued by the Office of Public Affairs in the U.S. Consulate General here said Ms. Clinton enjoyed the “warm, vibrant and energetic discussions” with Ms. Banerjee.
The discussions centred on increasing “U.S. investments in West Bengal, including the retail sector, regional affairs, U.S.-India relations, and strong people-to-people connections,” the release said.
Ms. Clinton also expressed the hope that Kolkata would become an important hub in the new “Silk Road Strategy” to connect the countries of East, South and Central Asia, it added.
“For the first time after Independence, a U.S. Secretary of State with her team has come to West Bengal. It is a matter of pride to us. This is a big change. It has been proved now that West Bengal is an emerging investment destination,” Ms Banerjee told journalists after the nearly hour-long meeting with Ms Clinton.
Ms. Banerjee said that during the discussion, she informed Ms. Clinton of the problems faced by the State due to a debt burden of $ 40 million and the efforts made by the State government to overcome it.
A joint committee, under U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell and Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh, would look into the possibilities of new investment opportunities in the State. The areas being looked at were information technology, education, and health, as well as the upcoming deep-sea port in the State, Ms. Banerjee said.
The Chief Minister said she was “delighted” with Ms. Clinton's appreciation of her government since she took charge. “She appreciated the passion of our government in implementation of programmes in a mission mode.”