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Briefing by the Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs on various visits from the US and response to questions on Nepal and Iran

New Delhi
April 4, 2006 

There have been a number of questions on various US visits like who is coming when. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher who heads the newly re-constituted State Department’s Bureau for South and Central Asia would be visiting New Delhi for consultations from April 6-8, 2006. During the visit he will hold meetings with his Indian counterpart Dr. S. Jaishankar, Joint Secretary (Americas) in the Ministry of External Affairs. The discussions will cover the entire gamut of our bilateral relations as well as bilateral consultations on regional issues. 

A number of visits from the US Congress are also expected in the coming days. US Senator Chuck Hagel, the Republican Senior Senator from Nebraska would be visiting New Delhi and Mumbai from April 9-11. 
{Senator Hagel is member of Senate committees on Foreign Relations; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Intelligence and Rules. Hagel is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, Export and Trade Promotion and the Senate Banking Securities and Investment Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.}

This would be followed by the visit of a delegation from the US House of Representatives led by House Speaker Dennis Hastert. The delegation would visit Agra, Jaipur and New Delhi from April 9-12. 

{House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Republican-Illinois) would be accompanied by Representative Michael Oxley (Republican-Ohio), Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services; Representative Sherwood Boehlert (Republican-New York), Chairman of the House Science Committee; Representative Frank Lucas (Republican-Oklahoma) who serves on the Agriculture, Financial Services, and Science Committees; Representative Ray LaHood (Republican-Illinois), Vice Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the House Appropriations Committee; Representative Paul Ryan (Republican-Wisconsin), who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, House Budget Committee and the Joint Economic Committee; Representative Randy Neugebauer (Republican-Texas) who serves on House Committees on Agriculture and Financial Services; and Representative Dan Boren (Democrat-Oklahoma), who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Resources Committee.}

Another Congressional delegation led by Senator Michael Enzi (Republican-Wyoming), and including Senator Edward Kennedy (Democrat-Massachusetts), Senator Lamar Alexander (Republican- Tennessee) and Senator Johnny Isakson (Republican-Georgia) would be visiting Bangalore, Delhi and Agra from April 11-16. They would be accompanied also by the US Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. 
{Senator Michael Enzi is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Senator Edward Kennedy is the Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the Senate. He also serves on the Judiciary Committee and on the Armed Services Committee and is a member of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee. Senator Lamar Alexander is the former Education Secretary of the United States and Chairman of the Senate Education and Early Childhood Development Subcommittee and the Senate Energy Subcommittee. Senator Johnny Isakson is a member of Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs; and Senate Committee on Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship.}

Of course, appropriate meetings for all these delegations are being arranged. 

Question: You mentioned about Mr. Boucher’s visit? Are you aware of the draft that was circulated at the NSG meeting? Are you going to raise it? 

Official Spokesperson:
It is not the appropriate time for me to give you a briefing on the civil nuclear energy issues. We will try and arrange a separate briefing for that. At the moment I suggest you take Foreign Secretary’s briefing in Washington as the last word. As these visits go on we will keep you regularly briefed, I know the interest in these issues. 

Question: There were reports that US does not want us to talk to Maoists? US is advocating differentiation…

Official Spokesperson:
You know India’s position on Nepal, but on this particular aspect of Maoists I have just given you our response that we have never believed that violence is the answer. We believe that Maoists should shun violence as an instrument of politics and following from that, naturally, we welcome the ceasefire. 

Question: There are persistent reports in Washington about Iranian and Indian navy ships training together …

Official Spokesperson:
I think this question was extensively answered by Foreign Secretary in Washington and if the reports persist I can do nothing better than refer you to Foreign Secretary’s answer. If the reports are still persisting then they have not taken his answer into cognizance.