The two sides would be discussing some of the most complicated issues of the day, said Kerry as he and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj led their high-level delegations for the first India-US strategic and commercial dialogue at the State Department.

Noting that Obama and Modi had elevated the dialogue from strategic to strategic and commercial to boost their commercial ties during the US president's January visit to India, Sushma Swaraj said she was very hopeful  that the dialogue would be very productive and meaningful.

Outlining their priorities, Kerry noted that the two sides had set a goal of boosting their bilateral trade five fold to $500 billion in the next five years.

The two sides planned to have a robust discussion on issues including counter-terrorism, Indian Ocean, maritime security, South Asian challenges, non-proliferation and climate change.

The tone for the dialogue ahead of Modi's third summit meeting with President Obama within a year next week was set at a business conclave Monday night with US Vice President Joe Biden saying: "Our goal is to become India's best friend."

"The President and I, and the entire administration believe that the India-US relationship will be a relationship that will go a long way in defining the 21st century," he said said addressing the 40th Leadership summit of US-India Business Council (USIBC).

There was so much potential for trade and investment between the two countries, Biden said but more reforms were needed. The US, he said, will do everything to support Modi's reforms.

Sushma Swaraj, in turn, said the India-US relationship "is defined by natural  synergy of our democracies".

"We have harnessed commonalities between our two countries to further bilateral priorities in several areas, including defense and security, countering terrorism and extremism, clean energy and environmental  protection, science and technology and space," she said."Our joint effort will help make India-US partnership as President Barrack Obama had said, one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century," she added.


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