Nirupama Rao invited to Washington for talks on bilateral issues


Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao

Rao has been invited by her American counterpart William Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, sources said.

They said that Rao would come to Washington from New York for a day to attend the meeting with Burns, scheduled for Monday, and then return to the Big Apple to continue with her regular schedule at the United Nations. Burns too would possibly head back to New York.

At a time when the entire Obama Administration is in New York, including President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to attend the annual UN General Assembly session, the invitation to Rao from Burns is being seen as a "major gesture" from the US.

It is also a clear reflection of the strengthening of relationship between the two countries, as normally when the US President and Secretary of State are in New York, the Administration as a normal rule does not encourage leaders and diplomats from other countries to come to Washington.

In this case, the invitation has come from Burns himself, who is keen to take ahead the agenda of both Obama and Clinton to take the Indo-US relationship to the next level.

Burns had visited New Delhi and Mumbai on June 10-13, during which he had met senior government officials and private sector leaders to discuss a broad agenda to further strengthen partnership between the two countries.

Noting that India was a major foreign policy priority for the US, Burns had told reporters after his meeting with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna that the Obama Administration considered India to be a crucial global partner for the US in the 21st century.

"We have come a long way together in recent years, including, in particular, the civil nuclear agreement which was a very significant accomplishment. But I am convinced that there is a great deal more that we can do together," he said.

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