With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set to become the first foreign dignitary to visit President Barack Obama at the While House next week, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Tuesday said that India and the United States will look to take forward their strategic partnership and cement the ties forged under the Bush administration.
"This is first visit of the prime minister to Washington after Obama took over. That is one of the reasons it is going to be very interesting. It will definitely be a defining moment in Indo-American relations. India will look forward to cement the bilateral ties that the two countries have been pursuing in the recent years," Krishna said, while talking to rediff.com on the sidelines of the South Asian Economic Integration conference organized by FICCI in New Delhi.
While the Obama administration has hyped the visit, dubbing it 'very notable', the Indian side has been guarded. Officials have constantly maintained that the visit will 'cement' the ties, which got a major boost during Dr Singh's first term.
The future course of the Indo-US nuclear deal will be one of the issues that will be discussed by the two leaders. Not much has been spoken about the nuclear deal in the last year or so since the new administration took over in Washington, though officials say 'negotiations' are on.
"I think the nuclear deal is through and the follow-up process is on. The negotiations are on, and there is a timetable to get things done. I think things are happening according to the timetable," Krishna told rediff.com.
Krishna, who will also meet his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the Commonwealth meeting in Trinidad andTobago later this month, did not divulge on issues that India might take up with Pakistan.
"India wants cordial relations with its neighbouring countries, including Pakistan. Whenever we meet in multilateral conferences, we exchange notes. Similarly, I am looking forward to meeting Qureshi this time too," Krishna said.