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Press Release on the visit of Foreign Secretary Mr. Shyam Saran to Washington, DC

Washington, DC
December 22, 2005

India’s Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran concluded a two-day visit to Washington on December 22, 2005.
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The purpose of the visit was to review progress in the implementation of the various understandings arrived at in the July 18 Joint Statement between the two countries in advance of the forthcoming visit to India by President Bush in early 2006.

The Foreign Secretary called on Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley on December 21, 2005. In addition, he had a meeting, on Capitol Hill, with Senator Lugar, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on December 22, 2005.

During the visit, the second meeting of the Joint Working Group on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation, was convened. The Working Group is headed by the Foreign Secretary on the Indian side and R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, on the US side.

In addition, Foreign Secretary joined his counterpart in the Department of Energy, David Garman, to co-chair the first meeting of the Indo-US Steering Committee on Energy Cooperation, which is being pursued through five different working groups on Coal, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Non and New-Conventional Sources of Energy, Power and Energy Efficiency and Civil Nuclear Energy cooperation (in areas not covered by the Joint Working Group).

The Foreign Secretary also met Eric S. Edelman, Under Secretary in the Department of Defense at the Pentagon, before his departure from Washington.

On civil nuclear energy cooperation the two sides exchanged views on the implementation of their respective commitments under the July 18 Joint Statement. The two sides also shared ideas about the processes that flow from these commitments in their own respective countries and in relation to their international partners. Significant progress was achieved in developing a mutual understanding of the steps needed to advance the early implementation of the agreement. The next meeting of the Working Group is likely to be held in January 2006 in New Delhi.

In his meetings with Under Secretary Burns, Foreign Secretary exchanged views on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues. The two sides expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved in taking the Indo-US strategic partnership forward and agreed that President Bush’s forthcoming visit to India would be a landmark event in India-US relations.