US Vice President Joe Biden and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks in the Indian capital on Tuesday as part of a renewed effort to strengthen ties between the two countries. The meeting came just weeks after US Secretary of State John Kerry came to India to lead a strategic dialogue between the nations. The pair of high-profile meetings signal increasing efforts to upgrade bilateral relations as the US lays out its plans to rebalance its foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific.
Biden's trip will also lay the groundwork for a summit meeting between Singh and President Barack Obama in Washington in September 2013. Indian officials said the two discussed a raft of issues, including ways to boost trade and ease bottlenecks preventing American companies from investing in the Indian market.
They also talked about the hurdles in implementing a landmark civil nuclear agreement that the countries ratified in 2008. India has said foreign nuclear companies operating in the country should assume nearly unlimited liability for accidents, a stringent condition that makes it all but impossible for foreign nuclear firms to set up nuclear power plants in India.
Regional security, especially in war-torn Afghanistan, and New Delhi's concerns about the possibility of the Taliban returning to power in Kabul post-2014, were also discussed during the 75-minute meeting.
The US increasingly views India as a partner in developing Afghanistan, where New Delhi has provided $2 billion in assistance. Washington wants India to play a more active role in training Afghan security forces as the US and its NATO allies withdraw combat forces by 2014.
Later on Tuesday, Biden will attend a banquet in his honor hosted by his Indian counterpart before leaving for Mumbai, India's financial hub.