Obama to meet Manmohan with high-profile team

By Arvind Padmanabhan, IANS,

London : The much awaited meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama here Thursday will include a high-profile team from Washington, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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Officials accompanying the prime minister to the G20 meeting here said both countries attached much importance to the first meeting Manmohan Singh will have with Obama since he took office in January.

“A lot of preparatory work has gone into it,” an official said.

“From their side there will be six top people including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner,” the official added.

He said the Indian side will include Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon.

The prime minister is here to primarily attend the G20 summit on ways to tackle the current global financial crisis, and has scheduled bilateral talks with his host and British counterpart Gordon Brown as well as Obama.

Ahead of the visit, the prime minister had said he would like to discuss a host of issues with the US president during what officials said would be a 45-minute affair.

“This will be our first meeting and will be an opportunity for us to review our bilateral relations as well as hold discussions on important regional and global issues such as terrorism, the situation in Afghanistan, energy security and climate change,” the prime minister had said.