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Krishna special invitee to dinner hosted by Obama

By Suman Mozumder
September 17, 2010 08:53 IST
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External Affairs Minister S M Krishna will be a special invitee at a dinner reception hosted by United States President Barack Obama in New York on the sidelines of the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly which begins next week.

The dinner will be attended only by heads of states and a select few, including Krishna, have been specially invited.

Diplomatic sources said that Krishna, who is expected to arrive in New York of September 21 as the head of a delegation that will comprise among others Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and senior government officials from various ministries to participate in the UNGA, will attend the Obama reception at the Metropolitan Museum on September 23.

Besides the UNGA, which Krishna is expected to address on September 29, the minister will also address two summit meetings -- one on Millennium Development Goals and the other on Convention on Biodiversity.

In a telltale sign of India's growing importance in the comity of nations, as many as 60 countries have so far requested for one-on-one meetings with Krishna.

According to sources, Krishna will meet US Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton for a one-one-on meting in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA. The date is yet to be fixed.

"This is going to be very important ahead of President Obama's scheduled visit to India this year," the sources said.

"The list (for bilateral meetings) is growing, and of course we feel proud that so many countries want bilateral meetings with the Indian foreign minister, which in effect indicates India's importance in the world, but certainly it would not be possible to accommodate so many requests during the minister's weeklong visit," Indian Ambassador to the UN Hardeep Puri told this correspondent.

"He has far too much on his plate given that he is here only for a week," Puri added.

Besides attending the UNGA and summits, Krishna will also attend the meetings of the Non-Aligned Movement, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the Group of 77 and G-4 besides attending the meeting of Brazil, Russia India and China.

"I cannot think of too many occasions in recent history where the foreign minister is ready to take so many diplomatic engagements. From that point of view, I think the minister's visit next week is unique." Puri said.

Although not part of the UN delegation, three other members of the Cabinet will also be around during Krishna's visit. These include Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, who has been nominated as a member on the panel on global sustainability by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and who will be addressing the convention on biodiversity, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, who is being honoured by the International Institute for Education and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.

Besides the ministers, a number of members of Parliament are expected to join the delegation.

Meera Shankar, India's ambassador to the United States, is expected to come to New York next week to receive the honour Appeal of Conscience World Statesman Award being conferred to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.

The 65th UNGA assembly comes ahead of India's becoming a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council beginning January next year.

"Obviously, this UNGA session is a momentous occasion from India's point of view," the sources said.

Image: A file photograph of US President Barack Obama with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna | Photographs: Paresh Gandhi

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Suman Mozumder In New York