Govt to further strengthen Indo-US ties: Natwar Singh
External Affairs Minister has said that Govt will continue working with the US in 'constructive' manner, strengthening bilateral ties.
The new Government will continue to engage with the US in a "constructive" manner to further strengthen bilateral ties in all areas and work together to eliminate the menace of terrorism, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh said on Wednesday.
"We will continue to engage our American friends" in a "constructive manner" as the government would like to "further strengthen, deepen and widen Indo-US relations in all areas", he said.
New Delhi has conveyed its desire to have the "closest relations" with the US when Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned Singh soon after he assumed office.
About his meeting with American Ambassador David Mulford who called on him to deliver a letter from Powell, Singh said he had emphasised the importance of the two countries working together to combat terrorism.
"I told him it is in the interest of the US, India and the international community to underscore the cordiality and intensity of Indo-US relations," he said.
On his part, Mulford briefed the minister on the evolving situation in Iraq.
US Under Secretary for Defence and Policy Douglas Feith will be coming here next week for the meeting of the Defence Policy Group when he holds parleys with Defence Secretary Ajay Prasad.
Singh, who assumed office on Monday, has immediately got down to business. "This government has hit the road running from day one," he said.
Reflecting the importance India attaches to its relations with neighbouring countries, he has summoned to Delhi for consultations Indian Heads of mission in SAARC countries for a two-day meeting from May 31.
The meeting will help to review the status of India's relations with these countries and to give a fresh impetus to its diplomatic efforts there.
India's Ambassador to Nepal Shyam Saran is already in the capital for discussions on the situation in the Himalayan Kingdom and the steps needed to further consolidate the friendly bilateral ties.
Singh said Indian envoys in the ASEAN countries had also been simultaneously called here for consultations.
With the evolving situation in Iraq engaging the attention of the new Government, Singh has also called India's Ambassador in Baghdad BB Tyagi for consultations about developments in the war-ravaged country.
India's Ambassador to Afghanistan Vivek Katju will also be shortly travelling to Delhi for discussions at the behest of the minister.
"We attach the highest importance to relations with our neighbours and near neighbours," Singh said.
On Indo-Pak relations, Singh said he had conveyed India's "total commitment" to take the peace process further "without delay" to Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri who telephoned him on Tuesday.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh soon after he assumed office, on Tuesday evening called Congress President Sonia Gandhi and invited her to visit his country.