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US wants summit on education

delhi Updated: Nov 04, 2010 23:20 IST
Charu Sudan Kasturi

The US has proposed an education summit involving secretary of state Hillary Clinton and human resource development minister Kapil Sibal to build on gains achieved in the sector, during President Barack Obama’s visit starting Saturday.

Indian and American officials are engaged in discussions over the proposal which the US wants to announce during Obama’s visit, representatives from both countries said.

The officials, however, warned that the proposal may be tweaked based on the discussions, adding the final proposal may not be ready in time for announcement during the Obama trip.

“It will be discussed between the two delegations, but it could be touch-and-go as far an announcement is concerned,” a US official said.

No Indian HRD minister has been involved in summit-level discussions with an American secretary of state.

Both countries are keen on strengthening ties in education, a sector declared as a key partnership area by Obama during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US last November, sources said. Over one lakh Indians travel every year to the US for higher education.

The two countries have finalised the contours of the Singh-Obama 21st century Knowledge Initiative announced by Obama last year.

A joint working group of US and Indian officials will pick Indian and American universities for grants.

The Indian team will consist of former Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Deepak Nayyar, HRD ministry additional secretary Sunil Kumar and ministry joint secretary Amit Khare. The US team will consist of three officials from the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF).

Officials of the two countries are however still undecided on the US proposal for a summit between Clinton and Sibal. The US wanted the summit announced during the Obama visit, an American government representative here confirmed.

“We believe the summit can add symbolic and tangible momentum to the educational ties...” the official said. India has hinted it prefers a more regular and broad-based bilateral mechanism for talks in education over a summit.