Counter-terror coop to top Indo-US strategic talks

Taking a major step to further deepen ties, India and the US will hold their first Strategic Dialogue on June three.

New Delhi: Taking a major step to further
deepen ties, India and the US will hold their first Strategic
Dialogue on June three during which they are expected to
discuss situation in Afghanistan-Pakistan and ways to take
forward initiatives in "top priority" counter-terrorism area.

The Strategic Dialogue, a broad-based format covering 18
sectors, will be led by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna
from Indian side and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from
the US side.

It will also lay the ground for the visit of President
Barack Obama to India later this year.

"The Strategic Dialogue will enhance 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 spokesman
Vishnu Prakash told reporters here about the meeting taking
place in Washington.

The Indian delegation will also include HRD Minister
Kapil Sibal, Minister of State for Science and Technology
Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission
Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.

From the US side, Clinton will be joined by National
Security Adviser James Jones, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke,
Education Secretary Arne Duncan and some other officials.

The issues that are expected to come up include
Afghanistan-Pakistan situation, India`s role in Afghanistan
and counter-terrorism cooperation between India and the US.

Describing counter-terrorism as an "urgent priority"
matter, sources said it poses challenge to both India and the
US and their cooperation has intensified after Mumbai attacks.

The two sides will be looking at ways to further step up
cooperation in this area, which will involve sharing of
intelligence besides the US help to upgrade India`s internal
security mechanisms like forensic training and coastal

Significantly, the Strategic Dialogue will take place
when a team of Indian investigators will be in the US to
question David Coleman, Pakistan-origin American, who had
played a key role in the Mumbai attacks.

There are reports that Obama may "drop by" during the
Strategic Dialogue, which would be only the second time that
the President has visited the State Department after last
January when Richard Holbrooke was named as the Special Envoy
for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In the context of Afghanistan, India`s role in
development and reconstruction of the country could come up
for discussion at the Strategic Dialogue.

The US, like all other countries, has been appreciative
of India`s assistance in reconstruction of Afghanistan.

India and the US will also discuss ways to take forward
their initiatives in civil nuclear energy cooperation, trade,
investment, agriculture, education, healthcare and science and

The basis for the dialogue will be the joint statement
issued after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s talks with Obama
in Washington in November that outlines the roadmap for future
of the relationship.

The five pillars outlined during that meeting were
strategic cooperation; energy and climate change; education
and development; economic cooperation, trade and investment
and science and technology and healthcare.

"It (the Strategic Dialogue) will focus on wide range of
bilateral, global and regional issues of shared interest and
common concern. It would give direction to programmes
currently under implementation," Prakash said.

Among other things, the two sides will consider ways to
operationalise the Obama-Singh Knowledge Initiative outlined
during the meeting between Singh and Obama in Washington in
November last year.

The initiative is aimed at increasing exchanges between
universities and other educational institutions.

Follow-up action on civil nuclear cooperation agreement
is also expected to be discussed.

They will also discuss cooperation within multilateral
fora and exchange views on how international organisations can
better address 21st century challenges, Prakash said, in an
apparent reference to reform of the UN.

"The dialogue will serve to reaffirm bilateral commitment
to further deepen our strategic and cooperative partnership,"
the spokesman said.


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