Secretary Kerry Leads US Delegation to India for Strategic Dialogue

US Secretary of State John Kerry leads a delegation for the 5th US-India Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi

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Washington, DC – The US Secretary of State John Kerry accompanied by US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, travels to New Delhi on Tuesday (July 29) for the 5th US-India Strategic Dialogue which Kerry will co-chair with Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on July 31. Secretary Pritzker will lead discussions to strengthen economic ties between the US and India. Other members of the interagency, including Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Francis Taylor, and NASA Associate Administrator Michael O’Brien, are also scheduled to join the trip.

In addition to holding the Strategic Dialogue, Secretary Kerry will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first Cabinet-level meeting with a US official since the inauguration of the new Indian Government according to a State Department statement. The statement further noted that discussions, “will cover the full range of bilateral issues, including expanding bilateral trade, tackling climate change, improving India’s energy security through cooperation in clean energy and energy access, and expanding our already robust people-to-people ties.”

Earlier on Monday, Secretary Kerry released the annual Congressional-mandated “International Religious Freedom Report” for 2013, which pointed at Uttar Pradesh, the North Indian state witnessing the highest number of deaths in communal clashes in India in 2013. “Uttar Pradesh, the largest state (in India), experienced the highest number of deaths in communal unrest for the second consecutive year, including the 65 killed in Hindu-Muslim communal violence in Muzaffarnagar,” said the State Department report.

In India, the report said, clashes in Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh between Hindu and Muslim communities between late August and mid-September led to the deaths of 65 persons, 68 persons injured, and an estimated 40,000-50,000 displaced, it said.

The same region witnessed communal violence again with three killed and several injured in clashes between Sikhs and Muslims in Saharanpur last week. Indian media reported the situation as tense even on Monday as curfew continued and shoot-at-sight orders given against rioters.

Asked if the subject will be on Kerry’s agenda, the State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told journalists at the daily briefing, “I would expect the focus of the meeting to be more about the future of our relationship moving forward, including our cooperation on economic issues moving forward.”

Announcing the visit, the State Department said, “Secretary 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.”

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