International

Hillary to visit India in spring

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles as she is asked a question during a media availability following the North American Foreign Ministers Meeting in Wakefield, Quebec, Canada, Monday, Dec. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Pool, Susan Walsh)   | Photo Credit: Susan Walsh

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a host of other senior cabinet officials will be visiting India during the spring season this year, according to Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert Blake.

Speaking at Rice University in Houston, Texas, Mr. Blake said that a series of high-profile visits led by the Secretary would take forward the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue process, “which oversees the entire spectrum of our cooperation.”

In a speech about the Obama administration’s priorities in South and Central Asia that emphasised the relevance of India to U.S. strategic calculations, Mr. Blake also corroborated the recent announcement by the U.S. Commerce Secretary, Gary Locke, that his department would be leading a trade delegation to India in February.

Mr. Blake noted that while in India Mr. Locke’s team would attend Aero India, a biannual Indian aerial fair, and also underscored the U.S. anticipation of India soon announcing the winners of a tender “worth up to $12 billion to supply 126 medium multi-range combat aircraft – a competition in which both Boeing and Lockheed Martin have entered their jets.”

The Assistant Secretary further elaborated on the bilateral trade and defence deals inked between India and the U.S. following President Barack Obama’s visit in November, pointing out that they amounted to over $14.9 billion, with $9.5 billion in U.S. export content that supported the creation of 50,000 American jobs.

Apart from the boost in bilateral economic cooperation that the President’s visit had engendered, Mr. Blake emphasised that India, which he described as South Asia’s “thriving anchor,” continued to play a key role in development efforts in Afghanistan. He said, “As a sign of our close partnership in the region, the President announced ... that we would work with India on women’s empowerment and capacity building in Afghanistan.”

He noted that such projects with India in Afghanistan marked “a small but important part of a significant new global development – the emergence of a global strategic partnership between India and the U.S.”

Touching upon energy issues Mr. Blake said that the U.S. had “welcomed renewed interest in [the] TAPI [gas pipeline project], although the challenges to completing such a project are numerous and real.” He noted that the TAPI project would require a multi-billion dollar investment to build a pipeline that would cross “volatile areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the tense border between Pakistan and India.”

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