Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to visit US next week



Washington: Ways to expand bilateral high- technology trade and regional and global issues of mutual interest will figure in talks Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao will have with top officials of the Obama Administration during her six-day visit to the US next week.

Rao, who would embark on the visit to Washington and New York on March 14, will co-chair the seventh meeting of the India-US High Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG) with Dennis F Hightower, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, on March 15-16.

This is the first meeting of the HTCG after the Obama administration assumed office in January last year. Both sides hope to consolidate the progress made in the last five years and move ahead to significantly expand bilateral trade in strategic and high technology areas, the spokesperson of the Indian mission here said.

The HTCG was formed in 2002 to provide a forum to discuss bilateral high-technology trade issues and build the confidence necessary to facilitate trade in sensitive items.

On March 15, the US-India Business Council (USIBC) will host the industry dialogue here in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

The meeting will give the US and Indian industry representatives an opportunity to discuss ways in which the two governments can facilitate trade in specific industry sectors and make suggestions.

These industry suggestions are expected to provide substantive input for bilateral government meetings the following day.

Apart from meetings in the Commerce Department, the Foreign Secretary will hold talks with other senior members of the Administration as well as the US Congress during her stay in Washington, the spokesperson said.

India and the US had agreed on establishing a Strategic Dialogue to be co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister and the US Secretary of State and also on a revised Dialogue Architecture last year during the visit of Hillary Clinton to India.

Rao, in her meetings in the State Department, will review the progress made on various elements of the revised dialogue architecture and also discuss the way ahead in preparation for the visit of External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to the US later this year for the next round of Strategic Dialogue.

Regional and global issues of mutual interest would also figure in these talks, the official said.

PTI