Clinton in India for talks on security, trade

Clinton in India for talks on security, trade

India and the United States were due Tuesday to hold talks on boosting security cooperation and economic ties on the opening day of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit to the South Asian nation, DPA reported.

Clinton, who arrived Monday night in New Delhi, was leading a 25-member delegation, including National Intelligence Director James Clapper and Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute.

The dialogue was aimed at expanding cooperation in as many as 18 areas, including trade and educational exchanges, but counterterrorism cooperation was expected to figure high on the agenda after last week's blasts in Mumbai, which claimed 19 lives.

Discussions would also focus on the volatile security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. India was likely to voice its concerns over the US troop drawdown in Afghanistan and India's recently revived peace talks with neighbouring rival Pakistan.

"The counterterrorism dialogue with the US is very crucial," Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said. "Both countries have suffered great losses and realize the need of counterterrorism cooperation."

Implementation of a US-India civilian nuclear deal would be another important area of discussion.

Economic cooperation, defence and environmental issues were also on the agenda, India's External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said.

India is currently the 12th-largest trading partner for the US with trade volume at 50 billion dollars in 2010. New Delhi wishes to increase it to 88 billion dollars annually.

Clinton was scheduled to meet top Indian leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday.

Clinton was scheduled to visit the southern city of Chennai, a hub for US investment, Wednesday. From Chennai, Clinton is to leave Thursday for the next leg of her trip to Indonesia and China.

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