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Cloud over Indo-US energy dialogue

india Updated: Dec 31, 2013 22:03 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times
Devyani Khobragade

In the backdrop of Devyani Khobragade incident will it be diplomatic business as usual between India and the US or the bilateral ties will take a backseat till such time the issue is resolved to mutual satisfaction?

These questions will be put to test on January 15 when deputy chairman Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia hosts US energy secretary Ernest Moniz for the three-day Indo-US Energy Dialogue in the capital. The Energy Dialogue was launched on May 31, 2005 to promote trade and investment in the energy sector and identify further areas of co-operation and collaboration while actively working with both public and private sectors.

Five working groups have been set up under the initiative in areas of oil & gas, coal, power and energy efficiency, new technologies & renewable energy and civil nuclear co-operation.

While the Planning Commission is keen to hold the meeting as the government wants to contain the fallout of Khobragade incident, the ministry of external affairs is still to take a final call, as diplomats feel that US movement towards resolution of the issue will help put the ties back on rail. “The detention of deputy consul general has impacted ties and there is a shadow over the forthcoming dialogue. It is not business as usual,” said a senior diplomat in Washington.

While unnamed sources based in New York have indicated that an unapologetic US was sticking to its stance of prosecuting Khobragade, the issue will be discussed between Indian ambassador to the US S Jaishankar and his interlocutors in the US state department after the latter returns from holidays.

It is understood that Jaishankar has had telephonic conversations with his interlocutors and the two sides are working towards a diplomatic resolution.

Although India took a series of counter-measures in Delhi to put pressure on the US, it ensured that the security of the US embassy was not compromised despite barriers being removed from Nyaya Marg, which bisects the consular section and American School.

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