New Delhi: US deputy secretary William Burns will visit India next week on the last leg of a five-nation Asian tour starting in Japan on Sunday, the US state department said in a statement posted on its website.

Burns, whose visit follows that of US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, will also stop in South Korea, China and Myanmar.

“The deputy secretary will then continue on to New Delhi, India, arriving 18 October to meet with senior Indian government officials to discuss regional priorities and review progress across the breadth of the strategic partnership, including measures to strengthen our bilateral economic engagement, and deepen our security and defence cooperation," the state department statement said.

Burns’ visit comes ahead of a closely fought US presidential election due in the first week of November that sees President Barack Obama pitted against Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

This week, India’s national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon said India and the US should focus on scaling up defence ties that have tremendous potential to take warming relations forward.

Previously known as estranged democracies, both countries have been working to improve and consolidate ties and are now dubbed “engaged democracies." That three US presidents have visited India in the decade between 2000 and 2010—Bill Clinton in 2000, George W. Bush in 2006 and Barack Obama in 2010—bears testimony to the rapidly warming ties.

A day before arriving in New Delhi, Burns will be in Naypyitaw on 17 October, where he will meet Myanmar’s civilian President Thein Sein and members of his government besides the pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

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