As the top US diplomat for South Asia Nisha Desai Biswal headed for India, the US reiterated that it took no position on the future of leadership in India which was up to the people of India to decide.
It was not yet clear, whether Biswal, the first Indian American to hold the position of Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, would meet any opposition leaders, including Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
“I don’t have any plans for that in my list,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters Monday in response to a question whether Biswal would meet with Modi or any other opposition politicians.
“But obviously, we’re meeting with a range of officials,” she said, adding: “It’s worth repeating: We don’t take a position on the future of leadership in India. Obviously, that’s up to the people of India.”
Biswal, Psaki said, was carrying a message from Secretary of State John Kerry that the India-US “relationship is important, we want to move past disagreements we’ve had because we have so many issues that are important for us to work closely on.”
“So that is the purpose of her trip, and obviously she has an expansive itinerary while she’s there,” Psaki said.
Biswal, who had to cancel her first trip to India last month in the midst of a diplomatic row over the Khobragade affair, “has a heavy schedule over the next couple of days.
“She’s going to meet with government and business leaders in Bangalore to discuss our joint efforts to foster innovation, increase our high-tech and engineering engagement and strengthen US-India economic ties,” Psaki said.
“She’s also travelling to New Delhi where she will meet with senior Indian officials to discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues, including our shared defence, security, and economic engagement,” she added.
Calling it “an important trip for us”, Psaki said, the US has “a broad and strategic partnership with India”.
“We’re a proud partner with India on virtually every field of human endeavour, from innovative solutions, to poverty and disease control, to space exploration and counter-terrorism,” she said.