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Rao meets Clinton, discusses H1B issue

world Updated: Sep 19, 2010 00:16 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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India has conveyed its concerns over outsourcing ban and H1B visa fee hike to the US during talks held here by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to discuss President Barack Obama’s visit in November. “But these issue are not likely to have an impact on the president’s visit,” said a senior official, adding, “relations between the two countries are far too wide and diverse to be influenced by one or two issue.”

“You have to look at the sum of the parts and not just the parts.” And the US is understood to have conveyed its disappointment over the nuclear liability bill as passed by Parliament. But as is the case with India over H1B and outsourcing, they are trying to not let it come in the way.

There has been much anger and concern in India over Ohio state’s ban on outsourcing and the US Congress passing a bill hiking H1B visa to finance better policing of the country’s borders. Roa discussed these and many other issues as she breezed in and out of back-to-back meetings to prepare the ground for President Obama’s visit in November – decide the agenda, the joint statement and even the itinerary.

The foreign secretary kicked off her tour with a meeting with State department undersecretary William Burns and then proceeded to meet she entire foreign policy establishment including secretary Hillary Clinton.

Clinton is understood to have described the relationship with India at a “transformational phase”. She had earlier said the Obama visit would take the relationship with India to another level.

But can it match the hype of the heady days of George W Bush and the civilian use nuclear technology agreement?

“Don’t forget Bush’s proximity to Pakistan, specially Pervez Musharraf,” the official said, cautioning against comparisons.

“This is going to be a big visit,” said the official, “and there is eagerness and keenness on their side to make it succeed.” After all, no US president has ever visited India in his first term. Obama is going to be the first to do so.