William Burns to visit India next week

Washington: US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is scheduled to visit New Delhi next week to discuss a "whole gamut" of relationship with top Indian leaders.

On his maiden trip to India as the Deputy Secretary of State – the most powerful position in the US State Department after the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Burns visit is reflective of the high-level engagement between the two countries in the aftermath of the Bali meet between the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and the US President, Barack Obama.

Burns, who is expected to leave on December 10 is likely to have his official meetings in New Delhi on December 12 with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, sources told PTI.

The top American diplomat, who personally sees `India file` at the State Department, is expected to discuss with the Indian leaders a "whole gamut" of relationship, which includes the bilateral ties and the situation in the region including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Burns would leave for a quick trip of South East Asia, including Vietnam before returning to India for the second leg of his visit.

Burns, sources said, is expected to return to India in less than a week to Mumbai and Pune for the second leg of his trip which is likely to focus on economic and education aspects of the bi-lateral ties.

Burns is likely to address university students in Pune.

His trip to India comes in the immediate aftermath of the highly successful India visits by the Governors of Maryland and Virginia last month.

The Assistant Secretary of State for Education, Ann Stock, has just concluded her India trip, which was a follow-up on the US-India Higher Education Summit, held in Washington, in October.