WASHINGTON: The US President, Mr Barack Obama would meet the Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on Sunday on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Toronto, during which the two leaders would discuss a range of issues, a senior Obama administration official said today.
“I think this will be an important opportunity for the (US) President to continue to foster the close relationship that he has with Prime Minister Singh,” a senior administration official told reporters.
Mr Obama will be meeting Dr Singh soon after his meeting with the Indonesian President, Mr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
“I think the President has coordinated very closely with India through the G-20 and also, on a bilateral basis, recently had an excellent strategic dialogue here in the United States with the Indians,” the official said.
Interestingly on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit, Obama would be having six bilateral meetings – and all with Asia Pacific countries – Japan, South Korea, China, Indonesia, India and Australia.
“US leadership in Asia is a very important issue to the president. It’s important to our economic future. It’s important to our export goal of doubling exports. It’s important to a range of security priorities including nonproliferation, counter-terrorism and, of course, the ongoing situation on the Korean Peninsula,” the official said.
“We have, of course, important presidential travel later in the year to Asia. So I think it represents the priority that the president places on the region,” he said.
Earlier, the visiting Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr Anand Sharma too said that Mr Obama would meet Dr Singh on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Toronto.
“Prime Minister would be travelling for the G-20, he will be meeting President Obama,” he said.
This would be the first meeting between the two leaders after Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April. The meeting would also give Mr Obama and Dr Singh an opportunity to review the series of high level talks between the top officials of the two countries including.
This includes the first ever Cabinet-level Indo-US Strategic Dialogue here early this month, wherein MrObama himself delivered remarks at a reception hosted by the Secretary of State, Ms Hillary Clinton in honour of the Indian External Affairs Minister, Mr S M Krishna.
Reconstituted by Obama and Singh in November last year, the Indo-US CEOs Forum had its second meeting on Wednesday.
Sharma along with Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee were here to attend this meeting. They also held bilateral talks with their American counterparts.
“President Obama will be visiting India late autumn and we are looking forward to his visit,” Sharma said.
Meanwhile, State Department spokesman P J Crowley told reporters at his daily news briefing that Obama’s visit to India later this year is a very important trip.
“We are mindful of the fact that obviously we’ll have an important trip by the President to the region later this year. So there’s a lot of work to do, and the meetings that we have are a reflection of that,” he said.
“I think what we’ve been doing this week is a logical extension of the recent strategic dialogue that we have with India. You can see that in other contexts, once you establish that dialogue and the structure that goes along with it, there are important follow-on meetings as we’ve just indicated that’s happening in the dialogue with Pakistan,” Crowley said.
“So it does reinforce the breath of our common interest, but forming a strategic dialogue is not just about some fancy title; it really involves very specific issues and it has a formal structure that allows us to work through those issues and follow up on the recent high-level meeting between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Krishna,” he said in response to a question.