SRINAGAR, Oct 5: A two member team led by First Secretary, Economic Affairs from the US Embassy in New Delhi today called on Minister for State of Tourism, Education, Technical Education, Culture, Horticulture, Floriculture and Parks, Priya Sethi.
During the meeting, discussions were held to promote J&K as preferred tourism destination for international visitors and to strengthen the ties by means of collaboration in the field of education between the two nations.
The Minister while discussing the tourism prospects of the state, requested the First Secretary to dilute the advisory issued for US citizens against travel to the state of Jammu and Kashmir on the lines of Germany. Emphasizing the relaxation in the “Protected Area Permit”, Priya Sethi said the tourists are now welcome to the virgin areas of Ladakh including Nubra valley.
With regards to education, the Minister urged the First Secretary for encouraging students/faculty exchange programme between State Universities and American Universities so that a healthy exchange of ideas, knowledge and culture can happen between the two nations. By exposing students to different cultures and diverse perspectives, international exchanges become an essential tool in creating friendships and furthering diplomacy.
Giving example of the recent MoU signed between Central University Jammu and Melbourne University, the Minister said that both universities have entered into this MoU to collaborate in academic and research activities on the basis of mutual benefits. In the continuous endeavor of building a sustainable eco-system for start ups, she proposed the angel investments and nurturing of incubation centres of the universities and industrial centres of the State with the help of US investors.
Speaking about the importance of trade between India and US, the Minister said that US is India’s largest trading partner and as far as our State is concerned, US is the largest importer of Kashmiri walnuts. For decades walnuts of Kashmir have been the main ingredient of Christmas Cakes. She stressed upon the preference be given to Kashmir walnut over Chinese keeping in mind its better nutrient values.
Seeking more financial involvement of US in J&K, the Minister asked the First Secretary to explore the possibilities of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), since after implementation of GST significant internal barriers have been removed.
The First Secretary sharing his experiences from his visit to the State, said that the requests made by the Minister would be looked into and hoped for positive ties with the State.