India, US to hold strategic dialogue, Iran high on agenda

June 8th, 2012 - 8:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, June 8 (IANS) India and the US will hold their third strategic dialogue June 13 that will see the two countries expand their cooperation across the spectrum, ranging from counter-terrorism and civil nuclear cooperation to regional issues and people-focused initiatives in health and education.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will co-chair the third annual strategic dialogue with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington June 13.

The two sides are expected to review the entire gamut of their burgeoning strategic relationship and will appraise the progress in implementation of the landmark nuclear deal that is embroiled in the US nuclear companies’ concerns about India’s liability law.

Since the dialogue takes place days before the US and EU sanctions against Iran become operational, the Iranian nuclear issue will be among important regional issues that will be discussed during the meeting.

India is expected to reiterate its position that it is only bound by the UN sanctions and is not inclined to accept unilateral sanctions on Iran. India is also expected to tell its US interlocutors that it will continue to import Iranian oil despite the impending sanctions as it is critical to India’s energy security.

There are sharp differences between India and the US over the Iranian issue, but officials point out that it is the sign of burgeoning trust that these differences are not allowed to cast a shadow over their larger relationship.

Krishna will lead a high-profile multi-ministerial delegation that includes Science and Technology Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath, Minister of State for Planning Ashwini Kumar and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and Prime Minister’s Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation Advisor Sam Pitroda will also be part of the delegation.

Since counter-terror and security cooperation will be high on the agenda, Home Secretary R.K.Singh and Director of Intelligence Bureau Nehchal Sandhu also are to join the delegation.

The annual strategic dialogue between foreign ministers was unveiled during Clinton’s visit to India in July 2009 and since then it has acquired an added momentum every year.

The dialogue seeks to fulfill the vision of India-US global strategic partnership outlined by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama.

The dialogue encompasses five segments: strategic, defence, homeland security, counter-terrorism and intelligence; economic, energy, climate; science and technology, innovation and health; higher education and empowerment; regional strategies and linkages.

There will be, therefore, several dialogues on the margins of and in the run-up to the strategic dialogue.

Sibal will co-chair the higher education dialogue with Clinton on June 12. Deshmukh will co-chair the Joint Science and Technology Commission Meeting with John Holdren, Obama’s advisor on science and technology.

Besides, there will be many sub-dialogues on global issues, homeland security, strategic intelligence, counter-terrorism, cyber consultations, information and communications technology, women’s empowerment, and health cooperation.

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