Busy with Kerala polls, Anthony ducks meeting with Clinton

Busy with Kerala polls, Anthony ducks meeting  with Clinton

The cancellation of the India-US Strategic Dialogue due to assembly elections in India, in which Defence Secretary Robert Gates was scheduled to participate along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is being termed as a missed opportunity by the Pentagon.

Gates was eagerly looking forward to his India trip in the first week of April along with Clinton, a senior Obama Administration official said, adding that visit of the top two cabinet members would have elevated the India-US strategic Dialogue.

This possibly would have been the last visit of Gates in his capacity as the Defence Secretary as he has indicated to leave the current post early this year.

Officials said Gates, who was keen to travel to New Delhi even in midst of the political unrest in the Middle East, is believed to express his disappointment over the cancellation of the visit.

The officials familiar with the discussion between India and the US said that the office of the Defence Secretary was informed that Indian Defence Minister A K Antony would be unavailable when Gates visits New Delhi.

When pressed, the office of the Defence Secretary was informed that "it would be suicidal" for an Indian politician to not to be in his constituency and instead have meetings in New Delhi with foreign dignitaries during election period.

Officials indicated that Gates is now unlikely to travel to New Delhi given his packed schedule henceforth.

The dates for the first week of April were decided months in advance, and it was the only dates when both Clinton and Gates were available.
Antony hails from Kerala which will go to polls in April.

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