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Clinton seeks support for India initiative

July 09, 2009 09:08 IST

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has sought to take top Congressional leadership into confidence in her endeavour to take the Indo-US relationship to a new level, which she fondly says is 3.0.

Less than a fortnight left for her first trip to India as the Secretary of State, Clinton had a breakfast meeting with more than a dozen top Congressional leaders from both Democratic and Republican parties on Wednesday, coming from both the chambers of the Congress -- the House of Representative and the Senate.

"I appreciate the Administration's determination to strengthen our strategic partnership with India in security, trade, and many other issues of mutual interest," John Cornyn, the Republican Senator from Texas, said after the meeting.

Cornyn is founder and co-chair of Senate India Caucus. Clinton herself was its co-chair last year from the Democratic side.

The statement coming from Cornyn, a critic of the Obama Administration reflects the bipartisan support the Indo-US relationship has gained in the last one decade. Clinton, aware of this fact, wants to build on it to, what she says, "deepen" the strategic partnership with India.

The State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly, said Clinton had broad discussions with US lawmakers on her India trip. "I am not prepared to talk about details, besides previewing her trip and talking about a number of issues on the bilateral agenda," he said.

Attending the crucial meeting with Clinton on Wednesday morning were Howard L Berman, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; besides Congressmen John Crowley, Jerry Lewis, Jim McDermott, Frank Pallone, Gary Ackerman, Ed Royce and David Price.

Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Member of the Committee; and Senators Robert P Casey, and James E Risch also attended the meeting.

"Today I had the opportunity to speak directly with Secretary Clinton and several of my colleagues about the United States' strong partnership with India," Cornyn said.

"India is the world's largest democracy -- and one of the world's biggest and most dynamic economies. During this decade, India and the United States have cooperated more closely than ever before," he said.

"I look forward to continuing this conversation as co-chairman of the Senate India Caucus and will continue to rely on the valuable input I receive from many of my Indo-American constituents in Texas," he said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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