Washington: Taking the Indo-US ties to the next level, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna is set to hold the first ever Strategic Dialogue with his counterpart Hillary Clinton Thursday during which the two sides are expected to discuss the Af-Pak situation and bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation.
In a rare gesture, President Barack Obama, who has called the US-Indian relationship "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century", plans to attend a reception for Krishna at the State Department to discount perceptions that he is not as warm towards India as his predecessor George Bush.
The Strategic Dialogue would formally open with a joint meeting between the two countries at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department, co-chaired by Krishna and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The issues that are expected to come up include Afghanistan-Pakistan situation, India`s role in Afghanistan and counter-terrorism cooperation between the two sides.
Foreign Minister SM Krishna also hopes to end the trust deficit with the US when he begins strategic dialogue with his US counterpart.
"There are very positive vibrations," he told reporters after Wednesday`s foreign policy dialogue between Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and US Undersecretary of State William Burns to set the tone for Thursday`s ministerial level talks.
India was not looking for short term deliverables from the talks, but a broad ranging partnership between the world`s two largest democracies to meet the challenges of the 21st century, Krishna said.
"Thursday will be a significant day as we have intensive, wide-ranging discussions with a broad range of cabinet officials and a large Indian delegation," State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters.
Addressing the 35th anniversary summit meeting of the US-India Business Council (USIBC), Krishna said, "We will discuss many areas in which we have shared interests, ranging from countering terrorism and extremism, advancing nuclear security, working to secure the global commons, seeking to build a developed and cooperative Asia and succeeding in Afghanistan."
The two countries will hold dialogues for co-operation in science and technology, research for clean energy and monsoon prediction, health and education, and a dialogue on women empowerment, he told the business promotion body representing some 300 US companies investing in India.
"That will be an important occasion for us to reflect on the remarkable journey that our two great democracies have embarked upon, and to set our sights on new milestones," said Krishna.
Hours ahead of Krishna`s arrival here, Burns said the Strategic Dialogue has elevated India to the rank of America`s top global partners.
"Our Strategic Dialogue this week elevates India to the rank of our most important global partners, allowing us to discuss and coordinate policies of global importance, including on the future shape of the international economic system and on what we can do together to promote human development in other parts of the world," he said at the Council on Foreign Relations - a Washington-based think tank.
Krishna, who arrived in Washington last night for the inaugural Cabinet-level strategic dialogue, is leading a high-power delegation including HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chauhan and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.
Other members of the delegation are Special Secretary for Internal Security UK Bansal, Environment Secretary Vijai Sharma and Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar.
(With Agency Inputs)