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Singh, Obama set ‘a robust agenda’ of engagement for next six months

Washington, PTI | Updated : 10 November 2013, 04:36 PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama have set "a robust agenda" for the next six months to keep the two nations actively engaged during elections in India and lay the foundation for take-off of bilateral ties under a new government in New Delhi.

During their White House meeting on September 27 which lasted over three hours, Obama and Singh agreed that the relationship between the two countries described by the US President as the most significant one for the 21st century is too important to keep adrift for a period of six months as India enters a crucial election phase.

As such Obama and Singh, who share a personal affinity between themselves, laid out a robust agenda of active engagement for the next six months and prepared groundwork for what the sources familiar with the talks described as "take off" for the new Indian government formed after the general election before May next year.

As part of this active engagement, newly-appointed Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal is soon expected to visit New Delhi which would be preceded by her trip to Tokyo for a trilateral US-India-Japan talks.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh is also scheduled to come to Washington for a series of high-level meetings before the end of the year.

In January, US Energy Secretary Dr Ernest Moniz is scheduled to visit India and the trip is expected to pave the way for a new phase in India-US energy co-operation while planning is in works for an early visit of the new Homeland Security Secretary.

The Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh is also expected to visit the US before the end of this year which informed sources said would make it the first time that heads of all the three Indian armed forces would be visiting the US the same year.

Ground work is also being laid out for a visit of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to India.

It is only a question of when Hagel would go to India, highly placed sources informed, adding that defense and energy sectors are now being billed as the "next nuclear deal moment" for the India-US relationship.

A senior administration official, when asked that the India-US relationship has "entered into a period of inactivity" as India heads towards general election in the next few months, said "I would not say that at all".

First Published: Sunday, November 10, 2013 04:34 PM
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