US Vice President Joe Biden
US Vice President Joe BidenWhite House website

US Vice President Joe Biden left today for a four-day visit to India to discuss a wide range of bilateral issues on economy, trade, defence and energy.

"One of the reasons why President Obama called our relationship with India "a defining partnership of the century ahead" is that India is increasingly looking east as a force for security and growth in Southeast Asia and beyond. We encourage it.  We welcome India's engagement in the region, and we welcome its efforts to develop new trade and transportation links by land and by sea in the area," Biden told an audience at the George Washington University on Saturday.

Biden is on a visit to the country with his wife Jill Biden and will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday. When in Delhi, he will also meet other key leaders including President Pranab Mukherjee and Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj to discuss various regional issues.

"In the last 13 years, we've increased fivefold our bilateral trade, reaching nearly $100 billion. There is no reason, that if our countries make the right choices, trade cannot grow fivefold or more," Biden commented on US-India relations during a speech on Asian relations last week.

Biden encouraged the hike on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) ceilings in 13 sectors but said, "We still have a lot of work to do on a wide range of issues, including the civil nuclear cooperation, a bilateral investment treaty, and policies protecting innovation."

Plans are already being made to set up the first US reactor in the country by September. 

In his meetings with top leaders on Tuesday, Biden will also take up another priority subject of climate change.

"We have to recognize that the impact of climate change also has an impact on growth as well as security. This is a priority for the President (Barack Obama) and for me.  America now has the lowest level of carbon emission in two decades.  And we're determined to help other countries do the same. That's why we're helping Pacific island nations (to) mitigate the effects of rising sea levels. We just concluded an agreement with China to reduce the use of pollutants called HFCs that cause climate change.  And there's no reason we cannot do more with India as well," he said in his speech on Asia-Pacific policy.

On 24-25 July, Biden will meet business leaders in Mumbai where he will deliver another policy speech at the Bombay Stock Exchange.

This will be Biden's first visit to India after becoming vice president. He will leave for the south-east Asian country of Singapore on Thursday.