To strengthen bonds, top Obama officials line up for India
In trying to carve out a new post-nuclear deal Indo-US agenda, a string of top US officials, including Secretary of Energy Steven Chu besides high-profile Under Secretaries of Defence and Disarmament, will be here for high-level talks over the next couple of weeks.
These visits come ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's state visit to Washington later this month, where US President Barack Obama is keen to project a strategic understanding between both countries on key global issues like trade, climate change and disarmament. India, on its part, does not want to be seen as an obstacle to these multilateral efforts but would be looking for gains on the bilateral front.
This is an important month for Obama's Asia policy as he looks to engage all big powers of the region. Having struck the right chords with major European powers, the Obama brand of multilateralism that seems to work on the principle of first hammering out an understanding among all major stakeholders, is all set to focus on Asia now.
While Singh will have the honour of being the first state guest of his Administration on November 24, Obama will be meeting him only after completing a weeklong tour of East Asia. This trip from November 12 to 18 covers Japan, China, Singapore and South Korea.
As all major economies look to step out of the economic crisis that overshadowed every other item on Obama's agenda, sources said the US President is now keen on nudging important Asian countries on reaching an agreement on taking forward his efforts on trade, climate change and disarmament.
In this context, India is being seen as a "special partner". So, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk has been to New Delhi twice already in two months as India sought to take the lead on breaking the deadlock on the Doha talks. Both sides are discussing bilateral agreements on trades and services too.