NEW DELHI, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- After watching India's Republic Day parade, President Obama told business leaders he plans to build stronger trade ties with the country.
Obama, the first U.S. president to attend the parade marking the day India's new constitution took effect in 1950, sat with his wife, Michelle, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi behind bullet-proof glass.
At a meeting with Indian and U.S. business leaders, Obama spoke of the two countries' trade relationship. He said he hopes to increase both imports and exports, which total about $100 billion a year, 20 percent of the bilateral trade between the United States and China.
"We are moving in the right direction....That said, we also know that the US-India relationship is defined by so much untapped potential," Obama said.
Modi promised to make doing business in India easier.
Obama said the United States would provide $4 billion in aid, loans and investment.
The president was the guest of honor at the parade, which included dancers, members of the armed forces and their equipment and 25 floats, nine of them celebrating Modi initiatives to move India along. The first was for Make in India, Modi's effort to eliminate red tape and bureacracy.
Other floats presented displays on the Department of Public Works effort to rid the sacred Ganges River of pollution, to provide all Indians, no matter how poor, with bank accounts and to get bullet trains running on the country's large railroad system. One float was dedicated to the prime minister's initiative, started a week ago, to end female infanticide.
Instead of ticker tape, helicopters dropped flower petals on marchers and onlookers.
Obama is cutting his visit to India short to stop in Saudi Arabia on the way back to Washington. During his stopover in Riyadh he will honor King Abdullah, who died last week, and pay an official visit to King Salman, Abdullah's successor and half brother.