US secretary of state to meet Indian foreign minister for annual strategic dialogue

Kerry arrived in New Delhi on Monday night India time for the second India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Aug 30, 2016, 10.37 AM (IST) Ramesh Ramachandran
Visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry began holding talks with India’s top leaders on Tuesday after the two democracies signed an agreement strengthening their defence ties.

Kerry arrived in New Delhi on Monday night for the second India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, likely to include war-torn Afghanistan and tensions with Pakistan.

Washington had hosted the first such dialogue in September 2015.

Kerry, on his fourth visit to India, flew in from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, where he held talks with the Bangladeshi government on bilateral and regional issues, including the terrorist attack at a cafe in Dhaka in July. In his meetings there, Kerry reportedly voiced his fears at the advent of the Islamic State in Bangladesh.

In New Delhi, Kerry is expected to meet his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj after 2 pm India time followed by a joint press availability at 6 pm India time.

On the last day of his visit to India, August 31, Kerry is expected to call on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over plans to hike trade between the two countries five-fold to around $500 billion.

On the commercial side, US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will hold talks with her Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman on issues such as trade, investment and visa.

This edition of the India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue is taking place towards the end of US President Barack Obama's tenure; it could very well have been postponed to a later date but sources tell WION that it signals the commitment of India and the US to maintain the momentum of the bilateral ties into the next administration in the US.