Barack Obama may visit India by year-end


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Apr 5, 2009
Barack Obama may visit India by year-end

23 Jun 2009, 0317 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Indo-US ties are set to get a boost from a series of high-level visits from Washington that will culminate with the visit of US
President Barack Obama to India later this year. Mr Obama is likely to visit India at the end of the year. But, before that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr Obama are likely to meet at the G-8 summit in Italy in July.

Top level diplomatic engagements are taking place between the two countries in the coming weeks and these visits are expected to set the tone and pace of the Indo-US ties. US National Security Advisor General James Jones is expected in India for a two-day visit starting Thursday. Gen Jones, who comes to India after visiting Pakistan and Afghanistan, is set to update the Indian leadership on Pakistan. At the same time, New Delhi is expected to give its reading of the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Security issues are set to figure prominently.

The visit of the American NSA will pave the way for the highly-anticipated visit of US secretary of state Hillary Clinton at the end of July. Ms Clinton’s visit to India will set the agenda for bilateral ties between the two countries. Ms Clinton had recently said she wants to “dramatically” expand ties with New Delhi, and sought to allay India’s concerns on issues like protectionism. She has also said US would like to give India a greater platform to solve global challenges.

At this point, New Delhi sees a congruence of Indian and American interests in various areas, but is also cognisant of the fact that there will be difference of opinion on a number of issues. Though Indo-US ties are expected to get a boost, the Obama administration has also been quite clear that its main focus is on the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

New Delhi is slowly getting a reading of the Obama administration’s policies on various issues. The latest statement from Mr Obama has erased some concerns about the new administration’s approach to Kashmir in the backdrop of the Af-Pak policy. Mr Obama has ruled out US mediation in Kashmir and favoured dialogue between India and Pakistan.

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