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Briefing by MEA Official Spokesperson on visit of Secretary Hillary Clinton

New Delhi

Briefing by MEA Official Spokesperson on visit of Secretary Hillary Clinton

MEA Official Spokesperson (Shri Vishnu Prakash): Good afternoon and sorry to keep you waiting for a bit.

My colleague Joint Secretary (AMS) Jawed Ashraf and I would like to brief you about the official visit of US Secretary of State Mrs. Hillary Clinton who comes on the 18th July primarily for the 2nd round of the India-US Strategic Dialogue. She would be accompanied by a 25-member delegation drawn from various Departments of US Administration.

To give you an idea of the programme and the delegation, the Indian delegation led by the EAM and would include Deputy-Chairman of Planning Commission Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia; Dr. Sam Pitroda, Advisor to PM; Foreign Secretary Shrimati Nirupama Rao; Foreign Secretary Designate Shri Ranjan Mathai; Commerce Secretary; Secretary, Department of Science and Technology; Home Secretary; Secretary, Education; Secretary, Environment and Forests; Director (IB) and other senior officials including Joint Secretary Jawed Ashraf.

From the US side the delegation led by Secretary Clinton would include the Director of National Intelligence Mr. James Clapper; Assistant to President on Science and Technology Mr. John Holdren; Deputy Energy Secretary Mr. Daniel Poneman; Deputy Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, Ms Jane Lute; as well as a number of other senior officials from various Departments of the US Administration.

Secretary Clinton arrives on Monday the 18th evening. On 19th she meets with the National Security Advisor; has delegation-level talks with the External Affairs Minister. Thereafter, they would hold a joint press conference. She would also have meetings with the Leader of Opposition Shrimati Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee, call on Chairperson UPA Shrimati Sonia Gandhi; call on the Prime Minister of India. On the 20th of July, Wednesday, she leaves for Chennai where she would have a number of engagements. She leaves Chennai on Thursday, 21st of July.

You are aware that in July 2009, India and USA had agreed to launch a Ministerial level strategic dialogue to focus on bilateral relationship and dialogue mechanisms along five pillars of mutual interest namely: strategic cooperation, energy and climate change, education and development, economy, trade and agriculture, science and technology, health and innovation. This comprehensive dialogue architecture covers 18 sectors of bilateral engagement.

EAM and Secretary Clinton co-chaired the inaugural strategic dialogue in Washington on the 3rd of June. EAM’s delegation had included Minister for Human Resource Development; Deputy-Chairman, Planning Commission; Minister of State for Science and Technology; Foreign Secretary; and senior officials from various Ministries and Departments.

The Strategic Dialogue provides an opportunity to take stock of the progress in bilateral relationship, bilateral cooperation, as well as to consult on global and regional issues of interest, besides charting out a short to medium-term roadmap of cooperation in priority sectors for the two Governments.

The strategic dialogue mechanism has come to be regarded as one of the very effective mechanisms to maintain the momentum of our rapidly deepening and expanding global strategic partnership that was outlined by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Obama during Prime Minister’s state visit to Washington in November, 2009. It was reaffirmed during President Obama’s reciprocal state visit to India in November last year.

It is no exaggeration to say that the relationship has got transformed in recent years with both sides taking and having taken a series of new initiatives to take the relationship to a qualitatively new level. India and USA are focusing on simultaneously further strengthening engagement in political, economic, strategic and security spheres, with greater priority to areas like economy, energy, environment, education and security.

Bilateral engagement both at senior Ministerial and official levels as well as through functional mechanisms remains robust. High-level visits in recent months from our side just in the last few months, include that of our Finance Minister, Commerce and Industries Minister, National Security Advisor, and Foreign Secretary. Likewise, from the US side we have hosted Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Homeland Security Secretary Ms Janet Napolitano, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, and other US dignitaries.

I would like to note that of the 25 bilateral mechanisms including Strategic Security Dialogue, Defence Policy Group, High Technology Cooperation Group, and Joint Working Group on Counterterrorism have met in recent months. The eighth meeting of the JWG on Counterterrorism was held in New Delhi in March this year to exchange threat assessments and review ongoing cooperation in combating terrorism including intelligence-sharing and capacity-building. Also, the first ever India-US Homeland Security Dialogue took place in New Delhi on the 26th of May this year.

Consequent to the Defence Cooperation Framework that was agreed upon in 2005, our defence exchanges have picked up steam and have included military exercises, reciprocal visits of Service Chiefs, defence modernization, technology transfer, and so on.

Cooperation in the energy sector including clean energy and energy efficiency has emerged as one of the top priorities in the relationship. During President Obama’s visit both sides reaffirmed their commitment to building a green economy of the future through the bilateral Partnership to Advance Clean Energy called PACE.

If one takes both goods and services into account, then USA becomes our largest business partner. In 2010, bilateral trade increased 30 per cent to close on $ 50 billion. We have the 2008 figure of trade in services which was 38 billion dollars. So, we are looking at trade in goods and services of over 88 billion dollars annually. Similarly, investments in both directions have been growing rapidly.

I mentioned a number of areas of cooperation. Let me add one more - education, which received a fillip with the Singh-Obama 21st century knowledge initiative unveiled in 2009. Nearly 103,000 Indian students were studying in American universities in 2008-09.

The regular high-level interactions and cooperation has resulted in increasing mutual understanding and greater convergence on a wide range of international issues. Both sides, for example, have been holding regular consultation and coordination to see a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. USA has also been appreciative of the positive role that India has been playing in achieving the said objective.

EAM is looking forward to the official visit of Secretary Clinton and members of her delegation, as well as to hold in-depth exchange of views on a broad canvas of issues and matters of interest between the two countries.

Thank you.