External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has arrived in Washington as part of his maiden bilateral visit to the US during which the civil nuclear deal is expected to dominate the parleys.
Mukherjee is scheduled to meet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday at 8:45 am (6:15 pm IST). The minister will go to the White House in the afternoon to meet the President George W Bush as well as the National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley.
Undoubtedly this will be the high point of the visit in which Bush and Mukherjee are expected to go over broadening and deepening of Indo-US ties which will include the civil nuclear initiative.
Mukherjee would leave for New York on Tuesday on his way to India.
Senior officials have been stressing that in Mukherjee's meetings, including at the White House, a range of issues on bilateral, regional and global issues will be discussed, but there is also the feeling that the civilian nuclear initiative will merit a high degree of importance.
The feeling is that the Bush administration would want to know from Mukherjee his thinking and that of the government of India on this critical issue given his important role on the nuclear initiative; and Mukherjee will get to know first hand from the administration the important timelines left to be resolved if the nuclear deal is to get through this session of US Congress.
Top lawmakers from the US have made it known to India of the absolute timelines left for the second session of the 110th Congress to pass the nuclear deal.