Fresh off a flurry of meetings in Turkey and Greece, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in India Monday evening for discussions on a wide range of economic and security related issues that lie at the heart of U.S.-Indian relations.
A senior State Department official briefing reporters aboard Clinton's plane, said Clinton's discussions would be focused around a range of core concepts, led by a look at the regional strategy for neighboring Afghanistan.
The discussions are a continuation of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, a vehicle launched by Clinton last year that serves to assess areas of progress, along with proposals for new areas of cooperation in the bi-lateral relationship.
Clinton will lead the discussions in New Delhi on Tuesday with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.
With the U.S. looking to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by 2014, Clinton will likely "restate her strong support for the resumption by India and Pakistan of their formal dialogue and encourage them to work in that same spirit to support a political process in Afghanistan," said S. Amer Latif and Rajan Narang of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in a question and answer paper about the meeting.
The tense relationship between the United States and Pakistan, following the May 2 raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan is also likely to be part of the discussions.
Clinton and Krishna are also expected to discuss ways to deepen economic cooperation between the two countries, in addition to cooperation in the areas of education, energy, climate change, and science and technology the State Department official said. The status of a stalled civilian nuclear deal between India and the United States is also planned as part of the talks.
Clinton will continue to tout the economic and social aspects of U.S. engagement in India on Wednesday when she travels to the southern city of Chennai, a rapidly growing destination for U.S. investment.
There the Secretary will deliver a speech that is expected to tout commercial ties between India and the United States. According to Latif and Narang of CSIS, the bilateral trade relationship is on the upswing with a 30 percent growth between 2009 and 2010. Major manufacturers like Ford and Caterpillar have already established factories in Chennai, with plans for even greater U.S. investment on the horizon.
Clinton is expected to call for an expanded economic dialogue between India and Pakistan as a way to build confidence in their relationship in order to confront the long-standing security issues between the two countries.
India's role in bringing about a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan which would include some type of political reconciliation with elements of the Taliban, will be part of the Secretary's speech the State Department official said.
Clinton will be the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Chennai, the city formerly known as Madras.
Her visit to India comes days after its largest city, Mumbai, suffered a string of attacks that killed 21 people, and injured more than 100. Clinton is not scheduled to visit Mumbai.
From India, Clinton is scheduled to continue her 12 day swing through Europe and Asia, traveling to Bali, Indonesia to attend meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. She will also visit Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China before returning to Washington early next week.