Washington: As the India-U.S. nuclear accord comes up for ratification by the U.S. Congress, New Delhi and Washington on Wednesday opened their first high-level contacts.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony and U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates expressed “great satisfaction” at the pace of mutual defence and security cooperation.

Mr. Antony is the first high-level Indian politician to visit Washington after the Vienna waiver of nuclear restrictions by the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Issues which figured ranged from defence, security to global and regional matters, Pentagon officials said. Top officials from both the sides were present at the meeting.

“It was very business-like and focused,” an official told PTI reflecting what the American side had been anticipating all along.

“To say that they reviewed just the gamut of relations would be very stale,” the official remarked.

Mr. Antony’s visit comes at a time when the relationship between the U.S. and India have reached a new peak not just in the realm of defence cooperation but in other areas.

The civilian nuclear deal could well be a topic of discussion between Mr. Antony and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the State Department, to be followed by a meeting at the White House with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

Another senior official who was a participant in the talks said they reviewed “with great satisfaction” the existing state of defence and security cooperation between the U.S. and India. — PTI

More In: Today's Paper