Nine ministers make a beeline for the US

September 23rd, 2011 - 9:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New York, Sep 23 (IANS) With as many as nine cabinet ministers in the US on various engagements, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here to attend the UN session could well hold a mini cabinet meeting away from home if need be.

Indian diplomats and journalists could not recall such a large team of India’s top government brass, including the prime minister, ever coming to the US at the same time.

And to assist such a meeting, if it were to happen, are National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister T.K.A. Nair and Foreign Secretary Rajan Mathai, all of whom who are regulars at such deliberations.

Besides External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who is of course accompanying Manmohan Singh, there are in all eight other ministers visiting the US at this time, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Hardeep Singh Puri said at a briefing on the visit.

Even Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, considered the second in command in the union cabinet, could well hold a meeting of group of ministers, if he so wishes.

He was here Wednesday and is now in Washington for a series of meetings, including the US-India CEO Forum and World Bank and the International Monetary Fund meetings over the weekend.

Joining Mukherjee in Washington for the CEO forum Thursday were Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.

Sharma was in Chicago earlier for meetings on infrastructure, energy and trade and investment promotion, along with Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who came here Wednesday for the 8th Annual India Investment Forum and meetings organised by the United States India Business Council.

Not to be left behind, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is also at the UN for a high-level meeting on the margins of the General Assembly on non-communicable diseases.

For the record, among the other ministers, Defence Minister A.K. Antony is in Japan, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal is in Finland, after visiting the neighbouring Baltic country Estonia, while Sports Minister Ajay Maken is in China.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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