Top aide to prepare for Obama’s India visit, discuss AfPak

Washington/New Delhi, July 10 (Calcutta Tube) India and the US will exchange notes on developments in Afghanistan when US National Security Adviser James Jones comes here next week to lay the groundwork for President Barack Obama’s visit in November.

During his July 14-16 visit to New Delhi, the general will meet with his counterpart Shivshankar Menon and other senior Indian officials, US National Security Council Spokesman Mike Hammer said in Washington Friday.

He would discuss ‘a full range of subjects key to the strategic partnership we are developing with India, including counter-terrorism cooperation, regional security, defence cooperation, and export controls’, Hammer said.

‘General Jones will also have an opportunity to begin laying the groundwork for a successful visit by President Obama to India in November,’ Hammer said.

The two sides are also expected to discuss the situation in Afghanistan in the aftermath of Gen. David Petraeus replacing Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the US commander of the allied forces in Afghanistan and reports of Pakistan pitching for including the Pakistan-backed Haqqani network in a power-sharing deal in that country, said reliable sources in New Delhi.

The situation in the AfPak region will figure in the discussions.

India is likely to reiterate its apprehensions about accommodating hardcore Taliban extremists who have an overt anti-India agenda, said the sources.

Jones’ visit will also coincide with the talks between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in Islamabad July 15 aimed at restarting the dialogue process between the two neighbours.

Although regional issues will figure in the discussions, Jones’ visit is primarily aimed at firming up the agenda for Obama’s history-making visit to India in November.

Calling US-India relations as ‘one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century’, Obama has said during his India visit he plans to together make ‘history and progress that will be treasured by generations to come’.

‘Our relations with India are at the highest of priorities for my administration and for me personally as president of the United States,’ Obama declared at a reception for External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna after the inaugural US-India Strategic Dialogue last month.

In preparation for the Obama visit to India, apart from the strategic dialogue led by Krishna, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma among others have travelled to the US.

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