Purpose of Clinton visit to strengthen strategic ties: US

"The purpose of the visit is to broaden and strengthen the strategic partnership between the US and India," said Robert Blake, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.

Briefing reporters on Clinton's trip to India, Blake said the purpose is also to highlight the extensive cooperation that is already taking place between the non-governmental folks in both India and the US.

"That is our business people, our scientists, our academics, our students, and so many other people. And those really underpin our relations and kind of propel them forward. So we really want to highlight those during the trip," he said.

"We believe that the strong showing of the Congress Party, Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh's return to office, and then President Obama's very strong support for strengthening ties with India really opened the way for a new and invigorated partnership between the US and India," Blake said.

Reiterating the commitment of the new US Administration, Blake said both US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton see India as an important partner for America not only in addressing bilateral issues, but also in kind of working with it to shape the world of the 21st century.

"So in terms of what we're trying to accomplish, the Secretary and her counterpart, Foreign Minister Krishna, will announce on Monday the elements of our new partnership," Blake said, without going into details.

"Broadly speaking, what we are going to do is continue the successful cooperation we have had on things like defence cooperation, counterterrorism, trade, while also forging new initiatives on things like agriculture, education, science and technology, and women's empowerment," he said.

Obama and Clinton also think there is a scope for broader engagement with India on some of the big global challenges of the world, including things like climate change and nonproliferation, he observed.

Clinton leaves Washington for India Thursday night (Friday morning India time). The US delegation headed by Clinton would arrive in Mumbai Friday night, with the first event scheduled for Saturday. In Mumbai, she would be doing some events with business people, meeting with a local women's association, and then she'll have an event with a lot of youth who are doing volunteer work in their communities, Blake informed.

In New Delhi, Clinton would meet on Monday her counterpart S M Krishna, besides meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Clinton would also meet Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and Leader of the Opposition L K Advani.

She also plans some people-to-people events in New Delhi, he said. "She will do an event at a green building to highlight some of the possibilities for working together on clean energy and climate change.

Clinton will also have an event to showcase some of the cooperation that is taking place between our scientists, agronomists, and NGOs and foundations on agriculture. And then she will have an event at a local university that will be an interaction with students and so forth," Blake said. 

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