US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns meets Mathai

New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns Friday met Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and the two discussed the full range of India-US bilateral relations as well as the India-US civil nuclear deal.

Burns’s visit was in preparation for the forthcoming Strategic Dialogue between US and India scheduled to be held in New Delhi in the latter half of June.

During talks between Burns and Mathai, both “reviewed the full range of bilateral relations and agreed to focus further on the economic issues”, said an official source.

India raised matters relating to immigration reforms currently under consideration in the US and sought greater access for highly-skilled non-immigrant categories. The US raised issues relating to Preferential Market Access.

There was also a detailed discussion on energy related issues including reiteration of Indian interest in LNG sales from the US, the source said.

“Education as a future pillar of the Indo-US relations was also discussed. We reaffirmed our commitment to pursuing nuclear cooperation with the US. Both sides looked forward to the commercial aspects of civil Nuclear Agreement being taken forward,” the source said.

Both sides discussed regional issues including the situation in Afghanistan.

Burns also met National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and made a courtesy call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“In his meeting with the prime minister, William Burns recalled the distance that Indo-US relations had traversed since early 2000 and attributed the success to the visionary leadership of the prime minister,” the source said.

Burns’s visit to India comes as part of the ongoing process of high level engagement between US and India.

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu was in Delhi last month and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had visited Washington in April. Human Resource Development Minister M.M. Pallam Raju is to travel to the US shortly for the Education Dialogue and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is to visit Washington for the Homeland Security Dialogue, the source added.

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