Krishna to meet Clinton on Monday

Krishna to meet Clinton on Monday

"We are planning a meeting between Secretary of State and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Monday subject to confirmation," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told reporters today.

To a question whether there was growing distrust between India and the US in the context of a meeting not taking place between Obama and Singh, Mathai said the Prime Minister had arrived in New York after Obama had left and that was why a bilateral meeting was not possible.

However, he noted that the two leaders could meet in the upcoming G-20 Summit in France in November.

A State Department official also said that Secretary of State Clinton is expected to meet Krishna on Monday.

"We very much hope that there will be a meeting between Secretary Clinton and External Affairs Minister Krishna. We are working hard to set that up possibly on Monday," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, told reporters in Washington.

During their possible meeting, the two leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues including the situation in the region – Afghanistan and Pakistan – and the next month's India-US Education summit, which would be co-chaired by Clinton and Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal.

Earlier this week, top officials of the State Department met Foreign Secretary Mathai.
The meeting was attended by Blake and Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Mark Grossman.

It is understood that during the meeting the officials from the two countries discussed India's role in Afghanistan and efforts to improve trade and commerce between India and Pakistan.

"I think, actually, a fair amount of progress is being made (in trade and commerce between India and Pakistan)," a senior Obama administration Official said on condition of anonymity.

"If you look at kind of the efforts where they started a year or so ago, they were talking about kind of the most minimal things. And now we've moved forward, at least a little bit, negatives to positives," the official said.

Grossman, in his conversation with Mathai, is understood to have praised the recent steps taken by India in this regard.

A senior administration official said Grossman told Mathai that the United States has been very impressed with the amount of money, for example, and resources that the Indian side has put into the border at Wagah Border.

"If a similar effort could be made on the Pakistani side it would be to everyone's advantage," the official said.

Another senior administration official said that what the Indians and the Pakistanis are trying to accomplish now is to take what is a lot of informal trade that goes via Dubai, making it direct trade that goes through Wagah.

"I think they're putting in place now the building blocks to enable that to happen.  So, of course, I don't want to get ahead of their own announcements on this, but I think their hope is that by doing so, they would be able to almost double direct trade between their countries overnight, and then go from there. So I think they themselves share this optimism," the official said.

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