Obama drops in for meeting with NSA, stresses on ''partnership''

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Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jan 29 (PTI) US President Barack Obama hasunderlined his commitment to building a "true global,strategic partnership" with India at a key discussion in theWhite House where the American leader dropped in for a meetingwith National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.

The US President dropped in for a meeting with Menonwhen the Indian NSA was meeting with his American counterpartTom Donilon at the White House yesterday.

"The President joined the meeting and reaffirmed hiscommitment to building a true global, strategic partnershipwith India," the White House said in a statement today.

Obama is believed to have been present at the meetingfor about 15 minutes during which he clearly reflected that heremains focused on strengthening the relationship betweenIndia and the US.

"The President relayed his priorities for the comingyear, including advancing our bilateral economic relationshipand making progress on nuclear security efforts," the WhiteHouse said.

On a day when Obama was busy with the unfoldingdevelopments in Egypt, his joining the Menon-Donilon meetingat the White House reflects the importance he attached to theIndia-US relationship.

In another special gesture, Secretary of State HillaryClinton yesterday hosted a lunch for Menon, who is here at theinvitation of Donilon to follow-up on the outcomes of Obamaand Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh�s Summit in India inNovember last year.

The Clinton luncheon is considered to be significantbecause she re-scheduled her meetings yesterday to accommodateMenon for a luncheon.

She had initially scheduled a dinner for Menon onThursday, which was cancelled because of the late arrival ofthe NSA due to the major snow storm in the region.

"Mr Donilon and Mr Menon discussed ways to advance ourbilateral agenda over the coming year, including theimplementation of initiatives launched during the Summit, aswell as building new platforms for collaboration that fulfillthe promise of our global strategic partnership," the WhiteHouse said.

It said the two also had "candid, in-depth discussionson regional and global issues of mutual concern".

Menon is here to review the implementation ofinitiatives launched during the India visit of Obama inNovember and discuss developments in India-US bilateralrelationship in preparation for the Strategic Dialogue in NewDelhi in April.

Menon also met William Burns, the Under Secretary ofState for Political Affairs.

"Our US-India Strategic Dialogue is premised on ourstrong support for India''s role as an important actor on theinternational stage," P J Crowley, the State Departmentspokesman, said ahead of the meeting.

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