Menon in US to discuss bilateral ties, Afghanistan

March 8th, 2009 - 10:19 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 8 (IANS) Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon arrives here Sunday on a four-day visit focusing on how to take the India-US relationship forward after the change of guard in Washington.

Besides Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Deputy Secretary James B. Steinberg, and his counterpart Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns, Menon would have talks at the Pentagon with defence officials, leading lawmakers and think tanks.

The threat posed by terrorism emanating from Pakistan and progress made in the probe into November Mumbai terror attack, particularly in the context of actions taken by Islamabad, is also expected to come up during the talks.

Besides bilateral issues, Menon is also expected to provide Indian perceptions on how to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan when he meets US special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta were here last month for what was described as a “valuable and unprecedented meeting” as part of an ongoing US policy review.

Holbrooke had invited India, considered a key player in the region, to provide its inputs for the policy review when he visited India after a fact-finding listening tour of the region that took him to Kabul and Islamabad and New Delhi.

President Barack Obama last month decided to send an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, bringing US forces there to 55,000 by this summer. The surge is part of the Obama administration’s plan to “refocus American resources on the greatest threat to our security-the resurgence of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

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