Burns meets Krishna to firm up Obama’s India agenda


New Delhi : Visiting US Undersecretary of State William Burns and chief pointsperson for South Asia Robert Blake Thursday met External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to firm up deliverables that could include the easing of high-tech exports during the visit of US President Barack Obama next month.

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Krishna conveyed India’s concerns over curbs on outsourcing and pressed for the dismantling of restrictions that bar US high-tech exports to India, well-placed sources said.

“Discussions centred on President Obama’s upcoming visit, as well as regional and multilateral issues that advance the US-India bilateral relationship,” said the US embassy in a statement.

The visit of Burns and Blake tops a series of preparatory meetings in the last few months which were aimed at firming up deliverables during Obama’s maiden visit to India, starting Nov 6.

The two sides will carry detailed discussions on issues relating to Obama’s engagements in India and key deliverables that could form the highlight of the presidential visit when Burns and Blake meet Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon later in the day.

Burns will also travel to Kolkata to meet West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan, a former national security adviser who played a key role in complex negotiations that led to the signing of the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal in October 2008.

Obama begins his visit to India from Mumbai on the evening of Nov 6 – his longest state visit to a foreign country since becoming the US president.

In Mumbai, he will stay at the Taj Mahal Hotel Palace and Tower, which was the centre of the carnage unleashed by Pakistan-based terrorists Nov 26, 2008, and visit other key sites linked to the terror attack like the Oberoi Trident.

Obama will also address a meeting attended by honchos of the Indian business world in Mumbai before touching down in Delhi on the evening of Nov 7.

Nov 8 is expected to be full of back-to-back engagements starting with a grand ceremonial reception followed by official talks with Manmohan Singh. Plans for an address by Obama to the joint session of parliament Nov 8 are being firmed up, sources said.

Obama flies out of India to Indonesia on the morning of Nov 9.