Business leaders out to put India on US map

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2009 (AFP) – US and Indian business leaders meet Wednesday in a bid to put a new focus on the South Asian power, whose warming US ties have ironically kept it off the new administration’s first priorities. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to deliver an address charting out the administration’s path with India, where US-friendly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has just won a convincing election mandate.

The meeting comes a week after senior US envoy William Burns traveled to New Delhi and said that President Barack Obama’s administration considered India “a major foreign policy priority.”

“We consider India to be crucial global partner in 21st century,” Burns said.

The US-India Business Council, which pushes for stronger commercial ties between the world’s two largest democracies, organized Wednesday’s meeting in Washington bringing together top business and political leaders.

Ron Somers, the president of the group, hoped the event would jumpstart a season of US interaction with India, with Clinton expected to travel to New Delhi next month.

“It’s a newly strong relationship and like any relationship it requires tending and nurturing rather than thinking it can run on au