US begins preparations to host Manmohan in Nov


Singh will be in Washington on November 24 in a sign of importance the US attaches to its ties with India.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake held the first inter-agency meeting in this regard yesterday at the State Department.

"It was a kick-off meeting for what promises to be a very robust welcome of the Prime Minister, when he lands in Washington in November," a participant of the inter-agency meeting said.

"The brain storming has just begun on how to take the relationship to a brand new level," he said, terming the meeting as very robust.

"This demonstrates the determination of this Administration to make the first state visit of Prime Minister, a very special visit," he said.

Besides top officials of the State Department, the meeting was attended by senior officials from the Department of Commerce, US Trade Development Agency, Department of Energy, US Trade Representative Office and National Security Council.

A key feature of the meeting was participation of private sector representatives.
The Obama Administration has already indicated that the private sector would play a central role in moving the relationship forward.

This was amply reflected when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during her India trip last month spent more time with the private sector in Mumbai, before meeting government officials in New Delhi.

The USIBC Synergies Summit has three Cabinet Secretaries, laying out their India agenda to the private sector.

"They are looking for private sector to be the full partners as the Obama Administration prepares for the Prime Ministers visits," a participant of the meeting said.

Those involved in preparation of the 2005 state visit of Singh, recalled that it was just a government affair restricted to a small group, unlike this time when a large number of agencies and the private sector have been brought on board at such an early stage.
"The planning meetings have just begun and this is exciting because the private sector has been so engaged so early on," one of the participants said.
"The heartening and gratifying thing to learn is that the State Department and this Administration fully recognises the importance of the private sector in this relationship," he said.

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