Washington: As Defence Minister, he inked a game-changing defence pact with the US, as Foreign Minister, he signed the historic India-US civil nuclear deal and now as Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee is all set to put India and  the US on the path of a "strategic economic" relationship.

This strategic economic relationship would not be of competition, unlike that with other countries, but would be complementing the growth and development of each other, officials familiar with the talks between the two largest democratic countries of the world said.

Pranab Mukherjee, who arrived here on Monday to attend the second annual meeting of the India-US Economic and Financial Partnership, is all set to lay the groundwork for a new era of trade and economic partnership with the United States, officials said.

Though no formal agreements or memorandum of understandings are scheduled to be signed during the day-long talks, officials asserted that the indications so far are that the talks could result in a path-breaking economic relationship between the two countries, following in the footsteps of what Mukherjee did to the India-US relationship when he was the country's Defence Minister and the then External Affairs Minister.

This is the first time that an Indian Finance Minister is travelling to the United States with half a dozen top officials -- Governor of the Reserve Bank of India D Subbarao, Secretary of Economic Affairs R Gopalan, Secretary of Financial Services Shashikant Sharma, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India U K Sinha; Chairman of the Forward Market Commission B C Khatua and Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu.

In an unprecedented gesture, the Obama Administration too has lined up its top financial and economic officials.

"The comprehensive inter-agency representation on both sides makes this the highest-level economic meeting ever between our two nations, demonstrating the vision and commitment in both countries for ever-deepening economic partnership," a senior Treasury Official said.

Ahead of the talks, Geithner and Mukherjee made a joint appearance at a panel discussion organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Brooking Institute.

Geithner said the growth of India was not posing any danger to the United States. In fact it complements the growth and economic development of the US.

"We will discuss in detail how to expand relationship between India and the US and also the other issues on which we share common perception. One of the fundamentals principles of our relationship is that we share many common values," Mukherjee said at the CII-Brookings panel discussion.

“The two largest democracies of the world are now engaged not only in strategic partnership but also to expand their relationship in various international fora, particularly G-20, which has emerge as an important fora to address the problems of the world economy. We have taken certain major steps in these fora," Mukherjee said.

Geithner said the Obama Administration views this relationship as having enormous potential.

Mukherjee is also scheduled to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

Geithner and Mukherjee would also have lunch with US and Indian CEOs on the sidelines of the meeting.

There will be separate working group meetings on macroeconomic policy, access to finance by small business and infrastructure finance at the sub-Cabinet level held on Tuesday afternoon at the Treasury.

Senior Treasury officials explained that the Obama Administration has a strong interest in ensuring that both economies reach their full growth potential.

"At current growth rates, India could become the third largest economy in the world by 2030. In fact, the Indian government has ambitions to raise India's growth rate to double-digit levels. Faster Indian growth clearly benefits Indian citizens. But India's growth also benefits those, including the United States, who trade with and invest in India," the official said.

In fact, officials point out, India and the US have made significant progress in bilateral economic relationship since Geithner and Mukherjee first launched the partnership in India in April, 2010.

(Agencies)