US wants to ramp up cooperation with India: Hillary Clinton

March 11th, 2009 - 9:45 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 11 (IANS) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has assured that the US really wants “to ramp up its cooperation” with India on a host of issues ranging Afghanistan to climate change to counter-terrorism.

The assurance came at a “very, very good, a very warm meeting” with Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon as he Monday began India’s first high-level interaction with President Barack Obama’s administration.

As Menon continued his hectic diplomacy Tuesday, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said of the Clinton-Menon meeting: “It was a very, very good meeting, a very warm meeting.”

Clinton, he said, made the point to Menon “that we really want to ramp up our cooperation in a number of areas, whether that be climate change, whether it be counter-terrorism.”

“There are just a whole host of issues where the United States and India can work together, have been working together, and that, you know, some of these issues are going to require not just US and Indian cooperation, but cooperation of others,” he said.

“I think there was a bit of a discussion on the additional protocol that was just worked out with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency),” said Wood without giving any other details.

“They talked a bit about Afghanistan and what needs to be done,” Wood said adding, Clinton “was very interested” in hearing Menon’s views “on this subject as well as a host of others. But “I don’t think it was a question of asking India to do more.”

Asked what the US wants India to do in Afghanistan, the spokesman said: “It wasn’t so much that we were asking India to do anything specifically,” but Clinton wanted to hear Menon’s views “on the best way forward in Afghanistan from the Indian point of view.”

On climate change, Clinton and Menon talked in general about cooperation. Without getting “into a lot of specifics, they did talk in general about the importance of working together to try to deal with the issue of climate change, global warming.”

Sri Lanka issue was also discussed “just in general.”

Menon discussed the nitty gritty of bilateral issues ranging from the civil nuclear deal to the upcoming G-20 summit in London at a meeting Tuesday with his counterpart Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns.

Menon Tuesday also met influential lawmakers on the Capitol. They included Jim McDermott, founder, Co-Chair of Congressional India and Indian-Americans Caucus, Howard L. Berman, Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Richard G. Lugar, top Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Gary Ackerman, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.

The foreign secretary also met representatives of leading Washington think tanks. He concludes his four-day visit Wednesday with talks at the Pentagon with defence officials.

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