Washington:  External Affairs Minister S M Krishna arrived here to hold the third Strategic Dialogue with his counterpart Hillary Clinton, during which the two sides are expected to discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues.

Krishna, who would co-chair the meeting with Clinton on June 13, is leading a high-powered delegation.

During the meet the two leaders are expected to deliberate on issues related to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Asia-Pacific region and their joint collaboration in third world countries.

Hours before Krishna arrived here on Monday afternoon by an Acela train from New York, the Secretary of State set the tone for the Strategic Dialogue by saying that India has "significantly" reduced its dependence on Iranian oil and this would get waiver from the Iranian sanctions act of the US Congress.

However, Krishna did not comment on the issue. Krishna is accompanied by a number of top ministerial colleagues including the Minister for Science and Technology Vilasrao Deshmukh, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Prime Minister's Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation Advisor Sam Pitroda, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath, Minister of State for Planning, S&T and Earth Sciences Ashwini Kumar.

Other members include Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, Home Secretary R K Singh, the Director of Intelligence Bureau Nehchal Sandhu, Secretary for Higher Education Ashok Thakur and some senior officials.

On Tuesday, the External Affairs Minister is scheduled to address the annual gala of the US India Business Council (USIBC), the largest bilateral trade organisation based in Washington and the premier business advocacy organisation advancing the US-India commercial and trade ties.

"Krishna's participation will provide a boost into what has been a rewarding US-India commercial partnership these past 20 years, since India first opened its economy in 1991," USIBC president Ron Somers said in a statement.

On Monday, a number of sub-dialogues along the margins of this Strategic Dialogue, including the Global Issues Forum, Homeland Security Consultations, Strategic Intelligence Dialogue, the Counter-terrorism Joint Working Group, Cyber Consultations, Information and

Communications Technology Working Group, the Women's Empowerment Dialogue, Dialogue on Health Cooperation and other events took place.

The Indian Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao, said the Strategic Dialogue will have discussions on five themes, strategic, defence, homeland security, counter-terrorism and intelligence; economic, energy, climate; S&T, innovation and health; higher education and empowerment; and regional strategies and linkages.

On the margins of and preceding the Strategic Dialogue, Union Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal will co-chair a meeting with Clinton on education related issues.

On Monday, Minister for Science and Technology Vilasrao Deshmukh co-chaired the Joint Science and Technology Commission Meeting with John Holdren, President Obama's Advisor on Science and Technology.

Azad will co-convene with Clinton and UNICEF, a Call to Maternal and Child Care Action on June 14-15 in Washington.


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