Kerry leaves for India

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US Secretary of State John Kerry, heading a high-powered delegation, today left for India to co-chair the fifth annual India-US Strategic Dialogue with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi during his three-day official visit.

State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki, who is accompanying Kerry on his trip, said the top US diplomat would also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It is the first cabinet-level between the Obama administration and the new Indian government led by Modi.

Kerry leads a high-powered US delegation including Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to co-chair the India-US Strategic Dialogue with Swaraj in New Delhi on July 31.

"There is incredible potential for the US-India relationship and the Strategic Dialogue is a great opportunity to explore ways to move forward," Congressman Joe Crowley said.

"We already have very strong people-to-people relations, and our two countries should be doing everything we can to work together more and more," the top Democratic lawmaker, who also co-chairs the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, said.

While Kerry's meeting would set the tone of India US relationship, officials said the trip would lay the ground work for Modi's September visit to Washington to meet US President Barack Obama.

"Kerry's visit underscores the importance of the US-India partnership, and will lay the groundwork for Prime Minister Modi's September visit to the United States," Psaki said.

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