- The Washington Times - Friday, September 27, 2013

In a meeting Friday with India’s prime minister, President Obama talked about the new Miss America but apparently didn’t address the U.S. business community’s concerns about intellectual property theft.

Noting that newly crowned Miss America Nina Davuluri is of Indian descent, Mr. Obama told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that her achievement is “a signal of how close our countries are.”

In the Oval Office meeting, Mr. Obama said trade between the two nations has risen 50 percent in the last several years, reflecting their “enormous” commercial ties. He also praised a just-completed deal to bring more commercial nuclear power to India.

“Bilateral trade between our two countries has gone up by 50 percent just over the last several years, indicating the degree of progress that has been made,” Mr. Obama said.

Both leaders spoke of their mutual cooperation in fighting terrorism.

But, at least in front of reporters, the two leaders made no mention of concerns in the U.S. about unfair trade practices. India has revoked or denied multiple U.S. drug patents, allowing Indian companies to produce cheaper, generic versions.

This summer, more than 200 members of Congress wrote to Mr. Obama urging him to raise the issue “at the highest levels of the Indian government.”

This week, governors from 14 states wrote a similar letter criticizing India’s economic policies.

Analysts say India is one of the worst offenders when it comes to bootlegged copies of American films, and has blocked imports of other foreign products.

Mr. Obama also said too many people in India are still trapped in poverty, and that the U.S. wants to help bring prosperity to its partner.

“We believe that if there’s a strong India, that’s good for the world and it’s ultimately good for the United States of America,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Singh said the two countries “are cooperating in expanding the frontiers of trade, investment and technology.”

“I explained to the president that India is a poor country,” Mr. Singh said. “Our basic task is to improve the standard of living of our people, to get rid of mass poverty, ignorance and disease, which still afflict millions and millions of our people. And in the president, the United States has a leader who realizes and recognizes the contribution that a resurgent India can make not only to fighting poverty, but also to global peace and prosperity.”

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