WASHINGTON: India will soon open its sixth consulate in Seattle to cater to the needs of large number of Indian-Americans living in the northwestern part of the United States.
“We hope to open a new Indian consulate in Seattle,” Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said after the conclusion of the talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama at the White House .
This was reflected in a joint statement issued after Modi-Obama talks.
“Both sides committed to open additional consulates in each other’s country. India will be opening a new consulate in Seattle and the US will open a new consulate at a mutually agreed location in India,” the joint statement said.
Apart from its embassy in Washington, India currently has consulates in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta .
In the joint statement the two countries also announced a series of measures to encourage people-to-people contacts.
Modi and Obama announced that the United States and India will be Travel and Tourism Partner Countries for 2017, and committed to facilitate visas for each other’s nationals.
According to a senior administration official the US plans to increase its number of people to issue visas at its diplomatic missions in India.
Reflecting on the strong educational and cultural bonds between the two countries, Modi and Obama welcomed the growing number of Indian students studying in the US which increased by 29 per cent to nearly 1,33,000 students in 2014-2015.
They also look forward to increased opportunities for American students to study in India. They also appreciated their governments’ joint efforts through the Fulbright-Kalam Climate Fellowship to develop a cohort of climate scientists to confront the shared challenge of global climate change.
Recognizing its mutual goal of strengthening greater people-to-people ties, the two leaders intend to renew efforts to intensify dialogue to address issues affecting the citizens of both countries that arise due to differences in the approaches of legal systems, including issues relating to cross-country marriage, divorce and child custody, the joint statement said.
The US Embassy and Consulates in India issued more than 76,000 student visas in Fiscal Year 2015. Indian students accounted for the second-largest group of foreign students in the United States in the 2014-2015 school year, with the number of students from India in the US increasing by over 29 per cent to a record high of nearly 1,33,000.
Through the Passport to India program, the US government encourages American students to study in India. At the same time, more than a million Americans traveled to India in 2015.
“The announcement that the US and India will be Travel and Tourism Partners in 2017 aims to develop joint efforts and programs to grow these people-to-people and economic linkages.
Similarly, the implementation of the Global Entry Program will facilitate travel between the two countries,” the White House said in a fact sheet.