India and the U.S. will have a series of high-level meetings starting from this week with the visit of Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to that country to set the agenda for President Barack Obama’s tour in November.
Leaving on September 16, Ms. Rao’s visit comes against the backdrop of the controversial position taken by the U.S. over outsourcing and recent hike in visa fee by the American authorities, merely two months ahead of Mr. Obama’s trip here.
The Foreign Secretary will also join External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna when he travels to New York on September 20 to participate in the U.N. General Assembly.
Ms. Rao will meet several senior officials in Obama administration, including Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, who is expected to visit India next week.
The two sides, which are looking at a big idea or big ideas to frame Mr. Obama’s visit, will also work on ironing out irritants created by recent U.S. positions both on outsourcing and visa hike.
While Indians are not happy with the U.S. hiking the H1-B and L1 visa fee and one of its States, Ohio, imposing a ban on outsourcing, the Americans, too, have their gripes and expect their concerns to be addressed, including those on nuclear liability bill, which was recently passed by Parliament.
Mr. Obama is likely to visit India from November 9 to 11 and issues like easing of high-tech exports through removal of Indian companies from the U.S. Entity List and a greater strategic understanding on the Afghanistan-Pakistan issues are expected to figure in his meetings with the Indian leadership.