India-US Strategic Dialogue to Set New Milestones: Krishna

By Arun Kumar

Washington, June 3 (IANS): India and the US will hold their first strategic dialogue here Thursday with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna expecting a very positive outcome from the talks he leads with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"There are very positive vibrations," he told IANS 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.

"Tomorrow (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 P.J. 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.

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.

On his part, Krishna assured the US business, who fear they might miss India's nuclear bus with the delay in the passage of a Nuclear Liability Bill by the Indian parliament, that New Delhi was committed to putting in place a nuclear liability regime.

"I have received some feedback on areas of particular interest to members present here - foremost is the implementation of the historic Civil Nuclear Agreement between our two countries signed in 2008," he said at the USIBC.

"We are well within the agreed timelines, of course. The government is committed to put in place a nuclear liability regime. We look forward to US companies investing in India," Krishna said.

As part of the dialogue, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal met Clinton Wednesday. They discussed India-US cooperation in higher education and increasing people-to-people ties, Crowley said, noting "education is a key component of our partnership with India, a key to meeting the demands of the 21st century economy".

The high-powered Indian delegation also includes Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan.




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