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Trade, defence, security to be on agend of John Kerry's talks

NEW DELHI: Bilateral trade, defence and security cooperation besides energy andhigher education would top the agenda of talks between indian leaders and US Secretary of State John Kerry who arrives here on Sunday for the India-US strategic dialogue. 

India will also seek from the US information on the opening of a 
Taliban office in Qatar besides putting across it concerns about the H1B and L category visas that has raised concerns among the Indian industry, especially the IT sector. 

The issue of market access, nuclear liability bill and American National Security Agency's internet snooping programme are also likely to be discussed. 

Kerry, who will be undertaking his visit to India since his appointment as Secretary of State five months ago, will also co-chair India-US Higher Education dialogue. 

Besides co-chairing the strategic dialogue with External Affairs Minister 
Salman Khurshid, Kerry will also meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 

Kerry is leading a high-powered delegation that also consists of the US Energy Secretary,
NASA Director besides US military chief for the Pacific region Admiral Samuel Locklear and top officials from the State Department and Homeland Security. 

This is the "first high-political interaction in the second term of the Obama presidency," Vikram Kumar Doraiswami, Joint Secretary AMS (Americas) Division in the Ministry of External Affairs said. 

"Then, of course, I'm sure there will be a good discussion on the range of important regional issues that the United States works with India on. First, of course, will be Afghanistan and the strong cooperation that we have with India on Afghanistan and, of course, India's leadership in helping to promote the New 
Silk Road vision of regional integration," the official said. 

"Secondly, I'm sure there will be a discussion about the opportunities for progress between India and Pakistan now that the new 
Nawaz Sharif government has taken office. 

"And third, I think there will be a discussion about the very important role that India plays in Asia and the important role in the US rebalance to Asia," the official said. 

In addition to his meetings and the India US Strategic Dialogue, Kerry would deliver a major policy speech. 

Though on his first trip to India as the Secretary of State, Kerry has had long association with India. 

Kerry visited India more than 20 years ago, leading the first US congressional trade delegation. He led the effort in the Senate to secure US congressional approval for the US-India nuclear deal, the official said. 

Kerry himself mentioned about this in his video message. "Personally, I've seen that friendship come a long way in the last 20 years. When I first visited India nearly two decades ago, I led the first US Congressional trade delegation as an historic step at the moment that the first financial reforms were taking place, interestingly then under the 
Finance Minister(Manmohan) Singh. And I've had the pleasure of traveling to your beautiful country on a number of occasions since that visit. I've been there during times of both great joy and also sadness," Kerry said. 

"Both of our countries have learned too well the pain of terrorism. After the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, I met with Prime Minister Singh, and that's a meeting that I'll never forget. And when President Obama recognised the Prime Minister as a guest of honor and talked about the depth and personal nature of our nations' friendship at his first state dinner, I was also privileged to be there," he said. 

"I remember fondly the intense work that we did together to get the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement approved in Congress, and I was proud to lead that effort in the Senate 
Foreign Relations Committee," he said. 

"It was a very important vote, one that symbolised the broad bipartisan support for our relationship, the transformation of our ties, and our confidence in each other as strategic partners. Now, as we look forward to its full implementation as soon as possible, we're going to have to continue to cooperate together," he said in his video message.