Deputy Secretary of State William Burns hosted a "productive" lunch meeting with Indian Ambassador S Jaishankar and both sides affirmed the importance of US-India strategic partnership and "discussed initial preparations for a range of upcoming bilateral meetings and exchanges," a statement from US State Department said.

"They agreed that the past several weeks have been challenging, and affirmed that we are both committed to moving forward to resume cooperation on the broad range of bilateral issues," the statement said.

The two officials also discussed matters raised by the Foreign Ministry during the dispute, including alleged issues with the American Embassy School, the statement said. Burns said that Washington took the concerns very seriously and will continue to address them via appropriate diplomatic channels.

The statement said, "Both Burns and Jaishankar affirmed our shared commitment to continue joint US-India work on issues such as clean energy and climate change, defense, economic and trade engagement, counterterrorism, and civil nuclear development."

On Saturday, India blamed United States for what it called a "mini crisis" over the arrest and strip search of its deputy consul general in New York last month and said more work was needed to repair ties.

The diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, 39, was arrested in December on charges of visa fraud and lying to US authorities on what she paid her housekeeper. Her treatment provoked protests in India and dealt a serious blow to US efforts to strengthen ties.

Tit for tat

India sharply curbed privileges offered to US diplomats in retaliation and asked Washington on Friday to withdraw a diplomat from New Delhi in response to Khobragade's effective expulsion from the United States last week.

As part of its measures, India last week ordered the US Embassy to close a club for expatriate Americans in New Delhi and a government source said it was also preparing to take steps against the embassy school, which it suspected may be employing some staff in violation of visa requirements.

The dispute also led to the postponement of two high-level visits by US officials, including one by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

On Tuesday, a lawyer for Khobragade asked a US judge to throw out the charges against her, arguing that her diplomatic status, granted by the State Department last week as part of a deal that saw her leave the country, gave her absolute immunity from prosecution, even for incidents that allegedly occurred before her accreditation.

If Judge Shira Scheindlin were to dismiss the indictment that would presumably permit Khobragade, whose husband and children are US citizens, to travel freely to United States. State Department officials have said they do not believe her immunity is retroactive.

Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said on the weekend the United States should have warned senior officials visiting Washington a day before Khobragade's arrest. He added, however, that the core of US-Indian relationship was very strong and that he did not expect lasting damage from what has turned into the biggest rift in years.

The two countries cooperate on a wide range of issues including counterterrorism, regional security and defense. India is also a major market for US weapons.


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