No Respite for Indians on Visa Fees After Krishna-Clinton Talks

Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

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New York – A visiting Indian top diplomat on Monday met with his American counterpart and glossed over international issues, while discussing bilateral topics on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York, according to officials privy to the meeting.

“Secretary (Hillary) Clinton and Foreign Minister (S.M.) Krishna today held a positive discussion on a broad range of bilateral and regional issues,” said a State Department senior official, mentioning regional topics like the US-Afghanistan-India trilateral dialogue and economic integration projects, including the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline.

On other issues, the senior US Official stated, “They also discussed our joint efforts on energy, civil nuclear cooperation, visas, trade and bilateral investment, and expanding cooperation with India’s neighbors and near-neighbors.”

Hours before the meeting, Indian media had been upbeat that Krishna would address  critical Indian business issues like the US visa fee hike in 2010, for which Delhi recently suggested they may take the US to the World Trade Organization but there was no breakthrough announcement on the visa issue.

Clinton and Krishna have already met twice this year, first in India in April and again in June in Washington, but the Indian companies, and especially those active in the US Silicon Valley, are still waiting for an affirmative action from the US to address the visa hike issue.

At the start of the meeting, Foreign Minister Krishna expressed his condolences regarding recent events in Libya and noted his concern regarding protests at the United States Consulate in Chennai.

For her part, Secretary Clinton welcomed the steps India and Pakistan recently took “to develop closer trade and commercial ties.”

But in earlier speeches, both India and Pakistan exchanged terse words over the Kashmir issue.

Addressing the 67th session of the UN General Assembly, Krishna said, “The people of Jammu and Kashmir have chosen and reaffirmed their destiny repeatedly through India’s well established democratic processes.”

“We wish to make it abundantly clear that J&K is an integral part of India,” Krishna asserted.

Indian Minister Krishna’s comments were a direct answer to an earlier speech by Pakistani President Asif Zardari, who had reiterated Islamabad’s support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, with an accusing finger pointed at the UN, saying, “Kashmir remains a symbol of the failures, rather than strengths of the UN system.”

Summing up the dialogue, the State Department senior official noted that Clinton and Krishna “also both expressed their sorrow at the tragic shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh gurdwara in August.” (IATNS)

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