Foreign Secretary to hold talks with top US officials

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Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh arrives here over the weekend to hold wide range of bilateral, regional and global consultations with top American officials to send a strong signal that the India-US relationship is too important to be distracted by domestic political developments.

Her four-day Washington visit is part of the effort of the two countries to implement the decisions made by US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during their September meeting at the White House.

Singh would hold "foreign office" consultations on Tuesday at the State Department with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Windy Sherman.

She is also scheduled to meet James Dobbins, the Special US Representatives for Af-Pak, as part of the Obama-Singh decision to increase their consultations on Afghanistan.

Singh last visited Washington along with the Prime Minister in September and was part of the Indian delegation to meet Obama at the White House.

She is also expected to meet Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel B Poneman on Monday, besides meeting two top American Senators - powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez and Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus Mark Warner.

She is also expected to hold meetings at the Pentagon and the Department of Commerce.

During these meetings, Singh and US officials are expected to review the implementation of the decisions taken during the Obama-Singh summit in September and also to ensure that the important relationship is not distracted or paused at a time when India enters into an election mode.

Singh's trip comes immediately after the US visit of Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh. This is to be followed by India trip by Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal sometime next year.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is scheduled to visit New Delhi in January for India-US Energy Dialogue.

Officials are also planning for the next round of Afghan-India-US trilateral meeting in New Delhi next year.

"The focus is how to go ahead with the implementation issues," sources said, referring to decisions made by Obama and Singh during the latter's highly successful White House visit in September.

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