India begins engagement with Obama's new team

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai is on a visit to Washington DC to formally kick-start India’s engagement with the new US Administration in place after President Barack Obama’s re-election in November.

Mathai is likely to call on the new US Secretary of State, John Kerry, apart from holding the annual foreign office consultations with his counterpart and Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Kerry succeeded Hillary Clinton on February 4.

Mathai’s visit to Washington DC marks the beginning of preparations for the fourth India-US Strategic Dialogue, which is likely to take place in New Delhi sometime in the middle of 2013. Kerry is expected to make his first visit to India as the secretary of state to co-chair the strategic dialogue with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

India and the US are expected to hold a series of sub-dialogues during the run-up to the fourth strategic dialogue, including meetings of the Global Issues Forum, Science and Technology Joint Commission, Information and Communications Technology Working Group and Counterterrorism Joint Working Group, apart from parleys on higher education, consultations on cyber-security, women’s empowerment and homeland security.

Kerry’s appointment had triggered concerns in New Delhi due to his purported soft stance towards Pakistan. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a few days before taking over as the Secretary of State, he had opposed a suggestion to cut US aid to Pakistan.

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