Biden begins visit to India with visit at Gandhi memorial

July 22, 2013 at 3:21 PM
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NEW DELHI, July 22 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden began his tour of India Monday at a memorial to Mohandas Ghandi, who led India's non-violent move to freedom from British rule.

"What a high honor and great privilege to be here in this sacred spot -- memorializing one man who changed the world," he wrote in the visitor's book at Gandhi Smriti, where the man known to the world as Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in January 1948.

Biden was greeted by Gandhi granddaughter Tara Gandhi along with the director of the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti.

"My nation was changed as well by Gandhi's teachings -- when Dr. [Martin] King emulated them to free not only black men and women, but all Americans," Biden said of the leader of America's civil rights movement.

Biden is expected to discuss a range of issues with Indian leaders, including economic growth trade, energy and climate change, security and investments. He is expected to meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Pranab Mukherji, as well as other senior leaders.

Ahead of his arrival, Biden told The Times of India bilateral relations between India and the United States have grown stronger since his last visit as a senator.

"The message that I'll carry to India -- both in my official meetings with the president, vice president and prime minister, and in my conversations with Indian society -- is that our two countries must continue to aspire to the promise of prosperity and security, and that delivering on that promise is something we can do together, through our bilateral cooperation," Biden said.

India, China and the United States are important players in the Asia-Pacific region, Biden said, with the responsibility of striving for peace, cooperation and prosperity.

"Our countries should work together to advance our common economic and security interests," Biden told The Times. "China shares borders and interests with South and Central Asia -- it has a real stake in regional cooperation."

Biden said the United States was encouraged by Pakistan's recent elections, marking the first time a civilian government has completed its term and transferred power democratically to another civilian government.

The United States welcomes India's emergence as a power, noting that annual trade is five times greater now than it was in 2000 and is on track to hit $100 billion this year, Biden said.

"India's rise as a global economic power is one of the most powerful stories of the 21st century," Biden said, noting that there was much the two countries could do to grow together in areas of energy, counter-terrorism cooperation and global security.

"When it comes down to it, our countries share the same democratic values and we have a tremendous capability to work together in the region and around the globe," he said. "That's what we've done -- and it's what we'll continue to do."

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