New Delhi, July 20 (Calcutta Tube) It is set to be a week of India-US diplomacy as the US’ topmost military commander, Admiral Mike Mullen, and Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke come here for talks with Indian officials ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi in November.
Holbrooke, Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, flies in in here from Kabul Wednesday.
Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), arrives here Thursday to discuss expanded defence cooperation between the two countries.
Holbrooke’s visit comes close on the heels of the discussions between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Kabul Tuesday.
Holbrooke is likely to meet Krishna, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and senior officials in the external affairs ministry.
The two sides are likely to review the situation in Afghanistan following Tuesday’s Kabul conference that focused on handing over security of the country to Afghan forces by 2014.
The recent foreign-minister level discussions between India and Pakistan, which also figured in talks between Clinton and Krishna, will come up for detailed discussions.
The talks between Krishna and Qureshi July 15 deadlocked on issues of terror and Jammu and Kashmir, without any visible roadmap for dialogue.
In view of the July 2011 deadline for beginning phased withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, the US is keen that India and Pakistan continue their dialogue as it will deprive Islamabad of an excuse not to concentrate on targeting the insurgents’ sanctuaries inside its territory.
Mullen is likely to meet Defence Minister A.K. Antony and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.
Mullen’s visit comes at a time when both sides are looking at expanding defence cooperation across a swathe of areas.
The visit also coincides with intensified lobbying for the $10 billion contract for 126 fighters for the Indian Air Force (IAF).