April 02, 2012

India, US prepare for strategic dialogue

New Delhi, April 2, 2012, DHNS:


Amid differences over the US sanctions on Iran, New Delhi and Washington on Monday started preparing for the ensuing bilateral strategic dialogue with a meeting between Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and American Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy R Sherman.

Though both the US and India stuck to their respective positions on America’s sanctions on Iran, Sherman is understood to have indicated Washington’s willingness to continue dialogue with New Delhi for better understanding of each other’s views on the issue.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are likely to likely to hold the third India-US strategic dialogue in Washington around the second or third week of June.

Sherman is currently on a visit to New Delhi to prepare for the annual strategic dialogue, which was launched in 2010. She met National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, too. The US official also had a meeting with the Bharatiya Janata Party heavyweight L K Advani on Monday.

Sources said that discussion between Mathai and Sherman had covered aspects of India-US relations, as well as regional and global issues. They are understood to have reviewed outcomes of the bilateral engagements since Mathai’s visit to the US in early February.

India rejected the US sanctions against Iran, stating that it would only abide by the ones imposed by the United Nations on the West Asian country. However, as the fresh US sanctions made it more difficult for Indian refiners to pay for the crude oil purchased from Iran, New Delhi is understood to have nudged them to lessen dependence on the Islamic Republic for hydrocarbon import and diversify sources of energy.

Though India is unlikely to formally ask the US to grant it waiver from the fresh sanctions on Iran, it is keen to bring down crude oil import from that country to make its financial institutions get an exemption from Washington.

India recently joined Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa to warn the US and rest of the West about the disastrous consequences of allowing row over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme to escalate into a conflict. The BRICS nations favoured diplomacy and dialogue to resolve the row.


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