India-US strategic partnership on an upward trajectory

Washington, Sep 26 (IANS) Refuting suggestions that the India-US relationship had plateaued, the Obama administration Wednesday said the strategic partnership between the two countries continued on an upward trajectory.

"If you look at the course of the last decade, some of the most contentious issues like defence cooperation and nuclear energy are centrepieces of the ties today," a senior administration official said in a conference call with the Indian media.

Previewing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's two-day working visit starting Thursday, the official said a series of high-level exchanges between the two countries was not an indication of a relationship that has plateaued.

"Those are indications of a relationship which is in active engagement stage. And that is the place where we want to keep it," the official said asserting what Obama has repeatedly called a defining partnership in the 21st century was indeed "scaling that trajectory".

The purpose of this "short working visit" is both to reflect and appreciate the decade of this transformation and the commitments of the leaders in the government to the strategic partnership, the official said.

The purpose is also to "set out a road map for the path ahead", the official added, noting that the road map would carry forward through the upcoming events which include the Indian elections.

Manmohan Singh will meet Obama at the White House Oval Office Friday morning before they will be joined by their respective delegations for a working lunch.

First lady Michelle Obama will host a separate tea for Gursharan Kaur, the prime minister's wife, in what the official said is a "distinctive and unusual feature" that reflects the closeness of both the bilateral ties, and relations between the two leaders and their spouses.

Manmohan Singh will leave Washington Friday evening for New York, where he will deliver an address at the UN General Assembly Saturday.

Manmohan Singh confirmed before leaving New Delhi that he would meet Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UN meet, probably over breakfast Sunday.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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