The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US lines up row of Delhi trips

New Delhi, Oct. 28: Differences on Pakistan notwithstanding, indications of India’s growing bonhomie with the US have become apparent with a series of high-level visits Washington has planned for Delhi in the next few days.

US state department policy planning head Richard Haas met foreign minister Yashwant Sinha this afternoon.

He will meet other senior Indian leaders tomorrow, including finance minister Jaswant Singh, defence minister George Fernandes and national security adviser Brajesh Mishra.

In the next 10 days, several US officials will visit Delhi to discuss issues ranging from environment to trade and commerce. Those scheduled to arrive include US assistant secretary for global affairs Paula Dobriansky, under-secretary for economic affairs Allen Larsen and under-secretary for trade Ken Juster.

During the meeting between Haas and Sinha that lasted for over an hour, Pakistan’s alleged transfer of nuclear technology to North Korea and the UN Security Council resolution on Iraq came up. Kashmir was also discussed.

Haas, an important member in the Bush Administration and the former head of the Brookings Institute — one of the most prestigious think-tanks in America — has been playing an important role in formulating US policy on security and strategic affairs.

The state department policy planning chief also met Kashmir committee chairman Ram Jethmalani today.

Saarc summit

After India’s hard stance on attending the forthcoming Saarc Summit in Islamabad, South-Asian nations are making a last-ditch attempt to iron out differences on economic and trade- related issues to pave the way for a preferential trade arrangement in the region by the year end.

The summit is scheduled to be held between January 11-13. But the Indian leadership, including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, has made it clear that the summit won’t have a meaning unless there is something “worthwhile” the leaders of the member nations could talk about.

The problem stems from Pakistan’s refusal to grant the Most Favoured Nation status or offer normal trade privileges to India. Though Delhi has given MFN to Islamabad, so far, its neighbour has not reciprocated the gesture. Both the countries are, however, signatories to the World Trade Organisation, which makes it mandatory for both to give each other normal trade privileges.

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