Ashok Tuteja, Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 8. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is leaving here next week for Washington to co-chair with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the third India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue to be held on June 13.
However, what has raised many an eyebrow is the fact that from Washington, Krishna will travel to Cuba, a country considered a continental and ideological rival of the US.
Asked if there was no contradiction in clubbing the minister’s visits to the US and Cuba, MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin shot back: ”Why should there be any issue” on this score.
During the India-US strategic dialogue, the focus will obviously be on all aspects of the multifaceted bilateral relationship. The first such dialogue was held in the American capital in June 2010 while the second round was held in New Delhi in July last year.
The dialogue forum is considered the principal platform to bring the different strands of the broad-based and diverse agenda of bilateral engagement and pursue the vision of India-U.S. Global Strategic Partnership, outlined by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama.
Krishna will be accompanied by Minister for Science and Technology Vilasrao Deshmukh, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Prime Minister’s Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation Advisor Sam Pitroda, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath, Minister of State for Planning, Science & Technology Ashwini Kumar, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, Home Secretary R.K.Singh and Director of Intelligence Bureau Nehchal Sandhu, among others. Secretary Clinton will be joined by her ministerial colleagues and senior officials.
Krishna will also deliver the keynote address at the Annual Summit of the U.S.-India Business Council on June 12. There will be several dialogues on the margins of and preceding the strategic dialogue. Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal will chair the higher education dialogue with Secretary Clinton on June 12. He will also co-chair the joint science and technology commission meeting with Dr. John Holdren, President Obama’s Advisor on Science and Technology.
The Foreign Minister will have a restricted meeting with Secretary Clinton on June 13 before they chair the plenary session of the dialogue, which will have discussions on five themes: strategic, defence, homeland security, counter-terrorism and Intelligence; economic, energy, climate; Science and technology, innovation and health; higher education and empowerment and regional strategies and linkages.