Krishna heads for first India-US strategic dialogue

New Delhi/Washington, May 30 (Calcutta Tube) External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Sunday left for Washington for the first India-US strategic dialogue that will prepare the ground for the visit of President Barack Obama to New Delhi later this year.

The June 2-3 strategic dialogue with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will cover an entire gamut of bilateral, regional and global issues.

‘The strategic dialogue will enhance the global strategic partnership between India and the US, by serving as a very important mechanism to review, enhance and coordinate our broad-based cooperation,’ external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash told reporters in New Delhi.

The strategic dialogue is reflective of transformed relations between India and the US and will give a direction to this growing partnership, Prakash said.

‘It would give direction to the programmes currently under implementation and take initiatives to further the Indian and US developmental, security and economic interests,’ said Prakash.

The dialogue will also lay the groundwork for the visit of US President Barack Obama to India later this year, he said.

Krishna will hold delegation-level talks with Clinton June 3 that will cover a wide range of areas, including high technology trade, science & technology, civil nuclear cooperation, agriculture, human resource development, security and other strategic issues.

On the Indian side, Krishna will be joined by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and other top officials.

Clinton will be joined by National Security Advisor James Jones, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, FBI Director Robert Mueller and the USAID Director Rajiv Shah.

The main strategic dialogue on June 3 chaired by Clinton and Krishna will be ‘about not so much what we’ve accomplished, but to look ahead about what we can accomplish, and particularly look ahead to the president’s visit sometime this fall to India’, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said in Washington.

A day before Krishna-Clinton meeting, Rao and US Under Secretary of Political Affairs Bill Burns ‘will oversee a very wide-ranging foreign policy dialogue that will cover Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East, probably China, and many other topics’, said Blake.

The dialogue gets under way June 2 with the 35th annual meeting of the US-India Business Council.

The strategic dialogue will seek to operationalise, among other things, the Singh-Obama knowledge initiative announced during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington in November last year, the first state visit of the Obama presidency.

Obama is to attend a reception for the visiting Indian foreign minister.

Obama plans to drive down from the White House to the State Department at Foggy Bottom for the reception being hosted by Clinton after co-chairing the inaugural India-US strategic dialogue.

The tone for the discussions was set by Obama’s phone call Friday to Manmohan Singh when the ‘leaders agreed that the Dialogue is an important milestone in the development of the US-India strategic partnership and looked forward to its results’.

Obama and Singh ‘also expressed their hope that the dialogue will initiate a regular exchange of ideas and discussion between their governments and both pledged their support toward that end’, according to a White House readout of the call.

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