India and the US hope to expand bilateral cooperation in critical areas like defence/strategic trade, civil nuclear cooperation, biotechnology, nano-technology and civil aviation after two-day talks on high technology starting Monday.
Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao arrived in Washington on Sunday to co-chair the seventh meeting of the India-US High Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG), its first since President Barack Obama took office, with Dennis F Hightower, Deputy Secretary of Commerce.
"Both sides hope to consolidate the progress made in the last five years and move ahead to significantly expand bilateral trade in strategic and high technology areas," said an Indian official before the meeting.
Official bilateral talks between the two sides on Tuesday will be preceded by a meeting on Monday between top US and Indian business executives hosted by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) to discuss ways in which the two governments can facilitate trade in specific industry sectors.
Suggestions emerging from this dialogue are expected to inform the official level talks.
Rao will also address the business-to-business session convened by the USIBC in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
The keynote address at the business session will be given by Michael Froman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs and Development.
HTCG was conceived in November 2001 with a joint statement by then President George W Bush and then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who affirmed their commitment to transform and deepen US-India relations. Both countries agreed to take cooperative steps to create the requisite political, economic, and legal structures for successful high-technology commerce.
Apart from meetings in the Commerce Department, Rao will also be meeting senior members of the US administration as well as the US Congress during her stay in Washington.
At the State Department, Rao will review the progress made on various elements of the India-US Strategic Dialogue initiated during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to India last July. She is also expected to discuss the way ahead in preparation for External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's visit to the US later for the next round of Strategic Dialogue.