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Briefing by MEA Official Spokesperson on visit of EAM to USA for Strategic Dialogue

MEA Official Spokesperson (Vishnu Prakash):  Good afternoon and thank you for joining even on a Sunday. My colleague, Joint Secretary (AMS) Shrimati Gaitri Kumar, and I would give you a perspective on the External Affairs Minister’s forthcoming visit to Washington for the first Strategic Dialogue with USA, which would take place on the 3rd of June this year.

You would recall that in July 2009, during the visit of Secretary Clinton, EAM and Secretary Clinton had decided to launch the Strategic Dialogue between the two countries. It will be held alternately in the capitals of both countries. The Strategic Dialogue will enhance the Global Strategic Partnership between India and the US, by serving as a very important mechanism to review, enhance and coordinate our broad-based cooperation.

At the Strategic Dialogue on the 3rd of June in Washington, EAM will be joined by Deputy-Chairman, Planning Commission, who is also the Co-chair for the India-US Economic Dialogue, for the India-US Agricultural Dialogue, and the India-US Energy Dialogue. The Minister of Human Resource Development Mr. Kapil Sibal will also be travelling to Washington, and he is the Co-chair of the Education Dialogue. Minister of Science and Technology Shri Prithviraj Chavan will be there too. As you know, science and technology is a very important facet of our bilateral cooperation.

The aforementioned dignitaries will have their separate programmes and meetings with their US counterparts, as a part of their ongoing dialogue processes and would join the Strategic Dialogue on the 3rd of June. EAM will be assisted by Foreign Secretary Shrimati Nirupama Rao; Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology; Special Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs; Joint Secretary Shrimati Gaitri Kumar; and other officials.

Secretary Clinton would be joined by the National Security Advisor, the Commerce Secretary of the US, the Education Secretary and a number of other senior leaders and officials. Composition of the delegations and the high-level participation on both sides, should give you a fair idea of the scope and nature of the first Strategic Dialogue between our two countries. Regular high-level contacts and bilateral dialogue on a wide range of subjects of mutual interest, are reflective of the qualitatively transformed relationship between our two countries.

It would be recalled that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had paid a state visit to the USA in November 2009, which was the very first state visit under the new Obama Administration. The Joint Statement - called ‘India and the United States – Partnership for a Better World’ - issued after the talks, outlines the main focus of the discussions and a roadmap for taking the relationship forward in this new phase of our strategic ties.

Prime Minister stated that rapid socioeconomic development under way in India, the transformation that is under way in India, offered several opportunities for mutual cooperation between our countries in a vast number of areas, including important areas such as infrastructure, communications and information technology, healthcare services, educational services, energy, environmental friendly technology sectors, and so on. Prime Minister Dr. Singh and President Obama had another very important meeting on 11th of April in Washington just prior to the Nuclear Security Summit. President Obama had observed during the meeting that there was no country in the world where the opportunities for a strong strategic partnership were greater to the United States than that with India.

Friends, that is the brief background in which the first Strategic Dialogue is going to take place in Washington. It will focus on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues of shared interest and common concern. It would give direction to the programmes currently under implementation and take initiatives to further the Indian and US developmental, security and economic interests.

Currently our interaction, our exchanges, our dialogue is being undertaken in eighteen areas comprising of five pillars of cooperation, under the Strategic Dialogue. These are: strategic cooperation; energy and climate change; education and development; economic, trade and agriculture; and lastly science, technology, health and innovation.

EAM and Secretary Clinton will consider an approach to operationalise the Obama Singh Knowledge Initiative aimed inter alia at increasing University linkages, faculty exchanges, and so on. A memorandum of understanding on agricultural cooperation and food security was also signed in November 2009 during the visit of the Prime Minister, to increase cooperation in agricultural research, human resource capacity development, natural resource management and collaborative research for increasing food productivity. This will also be discussed.

Energy, as you are well aware, is a vital sector of cooperation for both the countries. As part of the Energy Dialogue, both sides are working on establishing a joint Clean Energy Research Centre and we are accelerating efforts to deploy clean energy technologies in both countries. India and the US have also taken crucial steps towards full implementation of the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. The Agreement on Arrangements and Procedures for Reprocessing pursuant to Article 6(iii) of the India-US Agreement on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, has been concluded, which will allow for India’s reprocessing of US-origin spent fuel.

A Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism was established in 2009. A number of meetings have taken place under that framework.

These are just a few snapshots of some of the very important facets of our ties. I would like to add that since the decision to launch the Strategic Dialogue in July 2009, both sides have held comprehensive discussions on bilateral, regional and global issues of shared interests. We have discussed regional issues including those related to security and our common objective of promoting peace, stability and economic development in the region and beyond.

EAM and Secretary Clinton will also discuss cooperation within multilateral fora and exchange views on how international organizations can better address the 21st century challenges. The Dialogue will serve to reaffirm our bilateral commitment to further deepen our Strategic and Global Partnership. The meeting will also help lay the ground for the visit of US President to India later this year.

Thank you.