Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on President Obama’s upcoming trip to India:

“President Obama’s second trip to India and his participation in India’s Republic Day ceremonies is greatly symbolic of the deep partnership between our two countries.  But this visit needs to be about more than just good visuals.  The critical U.S. relationship with India has lagged the last several years.  This visit is a jump start chance not to be missed.

“With Prime Minister Modi’s promises of reenergizing the India economy, the Administration needs to make serious strides in promoting stronger trade relations.  While the U.S. and India have made progress in recent years in bolstering bilateral trade, we haven’t come close to realizing the full potential of this relationship.  If we’re to meet the Administration’s goal of $500 billion in bilateral trade, the President needs to take significant steps in helping to open up Indian markets.  With an Indian American community that significantly contributes to our most innovative business sectors, they will undoubtedly play a larger role in the years to come.  Greater support for high skilled immigration through H-1B visas is an important issue.

“The President should also make headway in the long-stalled U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement; since the legislation’s passage in 2006, little progress has been made.  The Administration has prioritized energy cooperation to help India meet its significant needs.  Implementation of the Civil Nuclear Agreement would be a major step towards that goal and a win for American business.

“Renewing our Defense Framework Agreement and improving intelligence cooperation should also be a top priority.  First signed in 2005, this agreement was crucial to enhancing defense cooperation and intelligence sharing.  With the significant threat that India faces from radicalism, renewing the Defense Framework Agreement should be a top priority.  We also need to see an increase in high-level visits by each country’s various intelligence and security agencies.  Our cooperation is strong, but there remains a need for greater engagement.”

NOTE: Chairman Royce is the former chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans.  Starting with only 8 members, Royce helped build the caucus to become one of the largest in the House.  In July 2006, Royce managed legislation on the House floor to pass the historic U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.