NEW DELHI: Ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama in September, the two countries will engage in a series of “high-pace” engagements starting from a trilateral with Japan here on June 23 and 24.
Apart from working on setting up dates for the Indo-US strategic dialogue between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her American counterpart John Kerry before the Modi-Obama meet, the two sides are also in the process to hold talks in key areas including defence, economic and trade.
Obama was among the first foreign leaders to call up Modi and congratulate him on his “emphatic election victory”. During the call, Obama had invited Modi to visit the US.
The call was the first high-level contact between Modi and the US leadership ever since 2005 when the Gujarat chief minister had been denied a US visa over the 2002 riots in the state.
It is learnt that India has decided to move beyond the turbulence triggered by the arrest of senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in December last and move on the “cooperative process”, as per directions from Modi and Swaraj. Khobragade was subsequently released on a bond in a visa fraud case.
While the economic and trade forum will be co-chaired by the commerce minister, the defence dialogue, which is pending for two years, may also take place before or after Modi’s visit to the US in September.
With a “clear signal” from the US that it wants to move on with the new Indian leadership on strengthening strategic cooperation, India has decided to move beyond the Khobragade incident.
However, it is understood that India is pursuing with the US the “serious issues” regarding immunity and other privileges created by the incident to prevent “recurrence” of such events.
During the upcoming India-US-Japan trilateral, issues of connectivity in South Asia including an economic corridor and humanitarian and disaster response are expected to be in focus.