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Rao briefs US on Indo-Pak talks

March 17, 2010 10:27 IST

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao reviewed the progress of India-United States strategic dialogue with top Obama administration officials, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and briefed them on the recent Indo-Pak talks as well as New Delhi's view point on Afghanistan.

Rao, who is on a six-day visit to US, met Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department, where Clinton dropped in and joined the discussion.

The foreign secretary also met National Security Adviser Gen James Jones at the White House.

"Foreign Secretary briefed the US side about her talks with the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan (Salman Bashir) last month," Indian Embassy said in a statement.

India and Pakistan resumed dialogue last month after a 14-month gap. Rao and Bashir met in New Delhi on February 25.

"She exchanged views on recent developments related to Afghanistan and stressed that Afghanistan presented the foremost security related challenge in the region," it said.

Rao also reiterated India's long held position that it was important for the international community to stay the present course in Afghanistan for as long as it is necessary.

"The US interlocutors conveyed their appreciation of the important developmental work being done by India in Afghanistan," the statement said.

The bilateral meetings, the statement said, provided Rao an opportunity to review the progress on various pillars of India-US Strategic Dialogue agenda including cooperation in defence, nuclear energy, counter-terrorism, agriculture, education, energy, space and cyber-security.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is expected to visit Washington soon for the first round of Strategic Dialogue with Clinton. Rao also met Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Robert Hormats and Under Secretary of State for Democracy Global Affairs Maria Otero.

The Foreign Secretary also met Congressman Gary Ackerman and Senator Joseph Lieberman. It was during the Clinton's visit to India in July 2009 that India and the US instituted the Strategic Dialogue.

During her trip to Washington, Rao co-chaired the 7th meeting of the India-US High Technology Cooperation Group on March 15. Under the Obama administration, this was the first meeting of the High Technology Cooperation Group, a component of the India US Strategic Dialogue.

During the two days of deliberations on promotion of high technology trade between India and the USA, the two sides were able to consolidate the progress made in the last five years and identified the next steps for further expanding high technology trade between India and the US - especially in the areas of Defence and Strategic Trade, Biotechnology and Nanotechnology, the statement said.

The two countries also agreed to create new groups for focused attention on cooperation in Health IT and Civil Aviation. Further, the Indian side requested the US Department of Commerce to review US Export Controls applicable to India and update them to bring them in keeping with the changed political realities that contextualise India-US strategic partnership today.

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