Krishna, Clinton discuss US visa fee hike

New York: India’s concerns over the US visa fee hike, steps taken to improve trade ties with Pakistan and the Wisconsin gurdwara shooting were among the host of issues discussed between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here during their “positive” bilateral meeting here.

Like previous meetings with Clinton, the 45-minute bilateral talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session on Monday were “positive and productive” during which regional and global issues were discussed, Krishna told PTI.

He said concerns over the US visa fee hike were raised with Clinton, but given that the US presidential elections are approaching soon, one cannot expect any immediate assurance or action from Washington on the visa issue.

“The US elections are here. It would be too much to expect any assurance from that side,” he said. The US had raised visa fee in 2010 to fund its enhanced costs on securing border with Mexico under the Border Security Act.

Some of the top Indian companies — TCS, Infosys, Wipro and Mahindra Satyam — were affected by the US action and India is expected to soon seek consultations with the US at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the issue.

This was Krishna’s third meeting with Clinton this year. The two had previously met in New Delhi in April and in June in Washington. A senior State Department official said Clinton also “welcomed the steps India and Pakistan have recently taken to develop closer trade and commercial ties.”

The official said that Clinton and Krishna expressed “sorrow” at the tragic shooting in August at a Wisconsin gurdwara in which six Sikhs were killed.

Krishna expressed solidarity with the US over the attacks in the wake of an anti-Islam film and condemned the assassination of the US envoy to Libya Chris Stevens. He also voiced his concern regarding protests at the US Consulate in Chennai.

Sources said regional issues including Afghanistan, particularly in the context of the first ever India-Afghanistan-US trilateral meeting, cooperation in South Asia and support for India’s Look East policy were also discussed in a “frank and friendly manner” in the meeting, which was attended by Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao as well.