Kerry not to meet BJP leaders: US officials

Kerry not to meet BJP leaders: US officials

In a departure from his predecessor Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State John Kerry would not meet the leaders of the main opposition party - the Bharatiya Janata Party - during his three-day stay in India.

Kerry, who left Washington this morning, is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on June 23, for the fourth annual India-US Strategic Dialogue, which he would co-chair with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

Speaking to reporters travelling with Kerry on his 10-day seven nation Asia trip, a senior State Department official said the top American diplomat would not be meeting any opposition party leaders including Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The officials attributed the decision of not meeting the opposition party leaders to time constraints.

The only bilateral meeting on Kerry's schedule in Delhi is that with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the press.

"With respect to the opposition (party leaders), the Strategic Dialogue itself is going to take up most of the day, so the only other bilat that the Secretary is going to have this time will be with Prime Minister Singh. So to answer your question, there will not be a meeting with Mr. Modi or other opposition people," the senior State Department official said.

The official was responding to a question if there is going to be any attempts to reach out to the BJP with Modi gaining in visibility.

Because of time constraint, Kerry is also not visiting any other city in addition to New Delhi, which was a practice during the four year tenure of his predecessor, Clinton.

In addition to her meetings with the government officials, Clinton made it a point to meet the leaders of the opposition and also UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.