US, India strategic dialogue to set stage for Modi visit

Washington, Sep 20 (IANS) India and the US begin their first strategic and commercial dialogue here from Monday to set the stage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third summit meeting with President Barack Obama within a year a week later.

The two leaders had decided to expand the existing Strategic Dialogue to the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue during President Barack Obama’s January visit to India to reflect the growing significance of the US-India economic relationship.

Modi himself lands in New York Wednesday a day after Indian and US teams led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Secretary of State John Kerry and Commerce Secretary of Penny Pritzker wrap up the dialogue.

He will be meeting Obama the following Monday in New York after wooing investors in New York and a weekend trip to the Silicon Valley focusing on three key themes of entrepreneurship and innovation, digital economy and renewable energy.

The Sep 28 summit would thus be capping eight days of intense India-US engagement on both political and commercial planes starting with an energy dialogue Monday led by Power Minister Piyush Goyal and US Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz.

Between the US-India dialogue and the Modi summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping will be visiting the White House on Sep 24 -25.

This is “a sequence that will not be lost on Chinese policy makers,” wrote Raymond E. Vickery, Jr. a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in an article in “Diplomat”.

“The Obama administration is pulling out all the stops,” , he suggested, to make the US engagement with India “a success and a key demonstration that the administration’s ‘rebalance to Asia’ is more than just rhetoric.”

As the US commerce department noted since 2010, the US-India Strategic Dialogue has been the primary forum to advance shared objectives in regional security, economic cooperation, defence trade and climate challenges.

“With a new commercial track, the US and India will focus additional
attention on shared priorities of generating economic growth, creating jobs, improving the investment climate, and strengthening the middle class in both countries,” it said.

Later on Monday evening, US Vice President Joe Biden, Kerry and Sushma Swaraj will headline a conclave of corporate America.

Other high-ranking government officials as also captains of industry from both countries, will also address the US-India Business Council’s 40th Annual Leadership Summit.

To increase the role of the private sector, the Commerce Department will host the US-India CEO Forum on Sep 21, in close proximity to the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.

The CEO Forum is the primary mechanism for engaging the US and Indian private sectors and leveraging business leaders’ recommendations to shape policy making discussions.

As part of the CEO Forum, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will host an event featuring remarks from Pritzker and Sitharaman, and a discussion between US and Indian CEOs on efforts to deepen bilateral economic engagement.

Other engagements on the sidelines of the strategic and commercial dialogue include official level India-US Health Dialogue and a meeting of India-US Joint Working Group on Climate Change.

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