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 announcement that he will travel to India in January:

“Today’s announcement that President Obama has accepted an invitation to attend Indian Republic Day as the Chief Guest is a very welcome development.  The importance of U.S.-India relations cannot be overstated.  Frankly, this has been a relationship that unfortunately has struggled to find its footing in the last several years.  The President’s visit could be another important step in getting this relationship back on track, following Prime Minister Modi’s very successful trip to the U.S., which I had the honor of being a part of, including welcoming the Prime Minister to Congress.

“During his trip, President Obama will have the opportunity to help push U.S.-India trade relations, which are far below their potential.  Some progress has been made recently, but the President needs to push for full implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, which would increase market access and lower transaction costs for U.S. and foreign companies in India.  The U.S. should be encouraging Indian investment in the U.S.  Progress also needs to be made on implementing the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement.  Given India’s significant energy needs, we need to overcome the impasse that has stalled this agreement.  Too much has been invested in this critical energy area to let it languish.

“Given the significant threat India and the U.S. face from radicalism, the President’s visit should have a strong counterterrorism component, as well.  President Obama should push for more 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, a three time co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, met multiple times with Prime Minister Modi when he visited the United States in September.  Royce attended a U.S. Government-only meeting with Modi at Madison Square Garden, where he discussed U.S.-India economic and security ties.  Chairman Royce was instrumental in the passage of the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement of 2006, managing the bill on the House Floor.  He has also been a strong proponent for enhancing U.S.-India security ties, and has long spoken out against the threat of radical extremism originating from Pakistani Deobandi schools.  Prior to that, Royce helped lead the effort to remove sanctions against India in 2001, and also joined then-President Clinton’s 2000 trip.