Taking the Indo-US ties to a new high, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is set to hold the first ever Strategic Dialogue with his counterpart Hillary Clinton during which the two sides are expected to discuss the Af-Pak situation and bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation.
Krishna, who arrived in Washington last night for the inaugural Cabinet-level strategic dialogue, is leading a high-power delegation including HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chauhan and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.
Other members of the delegation are Special Secretary for Internal Security U K Bansal, Environment Secretary Vijai Sharma and Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar.
The Strategic Dialogue would formally open tomorrow with a joint meeting between the two countries at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department, co-chaired by Krishna and Secretary of State Clinton.
The issues that are expected to come up include Afghanistan-Pakistan situation, India's role in Afghanistan and counter-terrorism cooperation between the two sides.
Ahead of the Krishna-Clinton talks, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao would hold the foreign policy meeting at the State Department which, the officials said, would set the tone for tomorrow's dialogue.
In his first public engagement in Washington, Krishna would deliver the keynote address to the 35th anniversary event of the US-India Business Council - the apex business body of American corporate world doing business in India, reflecting the significance attached to the US business community and their role in US-India relationship.
Separately, USAID Administrator Raj Shah and Under Secretary for Management Robert D Hormats would hold the Indo-US Agriculture Dialogue with Ahluwalia.
Sibal, who already had a series of meetings in Washington on Tuesday, would continue his discussions with US officials.
Hours ahead of Krishna's arrival here, Burns said the Strategic Dialogue has elevated India to the rank of America's top global partners.
"Our Strategic Dialogue this week elevates India to the rank of our most important global partners, allowing us to discuss and coordinate policies of global importance, including on the future shape of the international economic system and on what we can do together to promote human development in other parts of the world," he said at the Council on Foreign Relations - a Washington-based think tank.