WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns is in New Delhi, India, through Wednesday to meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, Food Processing Industries Minister Subodh Kant Sahay and other government officials to discuss bilateral and multilateral trade issues.

"The United States and India share democratic values and a long friendship," said Johanns. "As a leader of the G-20 trade group of developing nations, India plays an important role in the World Trade Organization Doha negotiations. We welcome its support as we work to get the Doha talks back on track. We are also continuing our important joint efforts to promote science and technology and create a sound regulatory environment that promotes trade and investment."

Johanns will also meet with Indian parliamentarians and private industry representatives to advance the cause of trade liberalization. He will speak to the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on Indian-U.S. agricultural trade and the Doha Round. FICCI represents a broad array of Indian corporations, chambers of commerce and business associations. Secretary Johanns will also visit a farm community and a major agricultural market.

The U.S.-India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative (AKI) was announced by President Bush and Prime Minister Singh in July 2005. The AKI board met in New Delhi today to discuss joint activities in the areas of food processing and marketing, biotechnology, water management and university capacity building. A. Ellen Terpstra, U.S.D.A. Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, and Dr. Mangala Rai, Director General of the Indian Council on Agricultural Research, co-chaired the meeting.

The AKI is a partnership that brings the U.S. and Indian private and public sectors together to work on innovative projects that will increase Indian agricultural productivity, help Indian farmers prosper and strengthen trade. At the conclusion of today's meeting, the Board announced several important new projects, including training opportunities for nearly 100 Indian government and private sector officials, joint Indian and American research projects, a multimillion-dollar agricultural market information system project and cold chain assessments to improve post-harvest capabilities.

SOURCE: USDA news release.