Kerry leaves for India to attend annual Strategic Dialogue

Washington: US Secretary of State John Kerry, heading a high-powered delegation of his cabinet colleagues and top military commanders, today left for India as part of his 10-day seven nation Asia trip.
On his maiden India trip as the top American diplomat, Kerry would co-chair the fourth annual India-US Strategic Dialogue along with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on June 24 and meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He would inaugurate the Higher Education Dialogue the next day.
It will reflective of whole-of-government approach and the wide spectrum of government-to-government activity the United States has with India, a senior State Department official told reporters travelling with Kerry.
Before leaving for India, Kerry in a video message to Indians said a strong India is in US national interest.
"The United States not only welcomes India as a rising power; we fervently support it," Kerry said in his nearly five minute video message, which he starts with Namaskar.
"That's why President (Barack) Obama and I support India's inclusion as a member, a permanent member, of a reformed and expanded United Nations Security Council," he said.
Among important members of the US delegation led by Kerry are Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz; Commander of the US Pacific Command or PACOM Admiral Samuel J Locklear; NASA Administrator Charles Bolten; USAID Administrator Raj Shah; Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Rand Beers, Science and Technology Advisor John P Holdren; and Fred P Hochberg, Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank.
Topping the list of Kerry's agenda would be the economic issues.
"There are concerns on the part of the American business community about some obstacles to trade, so I'm sure those will be discussed – things like intellectual property protection, local content restrictions, continued restrictions on foreign direct investment, taxation problems," a senior State Department official told reporters.
"So we want to talk not only about those, but how we can continue to invigorate our trade and investment relationship," the official said, adding that clean energy and climate change would be another important area of discussion; in addition to innovation and higher education.