Assistant Secretary of State meets MEA officials
After the talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the government turned its focus on the other high-profile visitor in town: United States Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal.
On Monday, as she met officials in the Ministry of External Affairs, including Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, President Pranab Mukherjee set out India’s vision for ties with the U.S. In his speech at the joint session of Parliament, President Mukherjee said the new government would “bring a renewed vigour to engagement and intensify it in all areas, including trade, investment, science and technology, energy and education.”
Ms. Biswal, who travelled to Delhi from Dushanbe (Tajikistan) and Beijing, is on a mission to acquaint herself with the new government. On Monday, she met Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar.
Ms. Biswal said, “The United States is very excited about the opportunity ahead and the road ahead because we see the resounding mandate with which this government has come in, with which Prime Minister Modi has come in, and the hopes and aspirations of Indian people.”
India and the U.S. discussed dates and the agenda for the upcoming India-Japan-U.S. trilateral, also called a “mini-lateral” engagement, which has been finalised for June 23-24 in Delhi.
However, no final dates have been announced for Mr. Modi’s U.S. visit or for this year’s strategic dialogue at the ministerial level. Ambassador to the U.S., S. Jaishankar, was part of the meetings as he is in Delhi for consultations after the government announced that Mr. Modi will travel to Washington around his trip to the United Nations General Assembly.
Beyond the meetings, however, India and the U.S. have many issues on the anvil. From defence deals and nuclear commerce that remain static, India’s concerns over restrictions on H1B visa, intellectual property rights and patents, in particular the strictures against the pharma industry have been unresolved.
Ms. Biswal, who is the point person for India, has her task cut out given the fallout of the Khobragade case, but more importantly, in addressing the slowdown in other areas of bilateral relations in the past few years.
A U.S. official referred to the period ahead as one of “renewing our vows” after a turbulent and difficult time in ties.