Ahead of the first-ever strategic dialogue between their countries, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama had a telephonic conversation on Friday evening during which the two leaders discussed regional and global issues of mutual interest.
“The two leaders discussed the forthcoming strategic dialogue between the two countries scheduled next week in Washington,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, adding that both the sides attach great priority to the dialogue as a means to strengthen bilateral engagement on a wide range of issues including high technology trade, science and technology, civil nuclear cooperation, agriculture, human resource development, security and other strategic issues.
Foreign Minister S M Krishna will lead a high-level delegation comprising several Cabinet ministers to Washington where the strategic dialogue is scheduled from June 1 to 4. The US delegation would be headed by Krishna’s counterpart, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The other Cabinet ministers will have separate bilateral meetings with their respective counterparts. Amongst the items high on agenda is India’s request for removal of many of its scientific institutions belonging to the Department of Atomic Energy or Indian Space Research Organisation from an Entities’ List maintained by US authorities. Institutions included on this list require special authorisation to import dual-use high-technology items from the US.
The telephonic conversation between Singh and Obama comes just a day after the United States unveiled its National Security Strategy for this year that identified India as one of the “key centres of influence” and called for building a “strategic partnership” with New Delhi.
“The US and India are building a strategic partnership that is underpinned by our shared interests, our shared values as the world’s two largest democracies, and close connections among our people. India’s responsible advancement serves as a positive example for developing nations,,” the National Security Strategy document said.