Pranab, Rice discuss bilateral relationship

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United Nations, Sep 27: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee reviewed bilateral relations with his US counterpart Condoleezza Rice over here today.

''In the afternoon meeting between our minister and the US Secretary of State, the two leaders reviewed bilateral relationship across the gamut of items of cooperation,'' said an official of the Permanent Mission of India to the UN.

The official added, briefing on yesterday"s parleys of Mukherjee, ''They exchanged views on the issues of concern.'' Also yesterday, the Mr Pranab Mukherjee met the Foreign Minister of Brazil, Celso Amorim; the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Israel, Ms Tzipi Livni; the High Representative of the European Union for the Common Security and Foreign Policy, Javier Solana; Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Mukherjee took part in a Ministerial Meeting of the India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) initiative. He chaired an informal Ministerial Meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

In the IBSA meeting, Mukherjee and his counterparts exchanged views on topics of mutual interest relating to the IBSA Dialogue Forum and the IBSA Fund for Alleviation of Poverty and Hunger.

The Ministers also underlined their determination to strengthen political aspects of IBSA"s work, including focusing on reform of the United Nations, in particular the UN Security Council. They called for an immediate, elements-based, result-oriented intergovernmental negotiation for expansion of the UN Security Council.

The meeting also discussed preparations for the second IBSA Summit in South Africa in October 2007.

At the SAARC meeting, the participants a report was presented by the Secretary-General of SAARC on the work of SAARC since the last summit in New Delhi in April 2007.

Members of the eight-nation group discussed the need to expand cooperation in the SAARC framework, taking into account the concrete projects set by previous summits and reviewing progress achieved thus far. Following the informal meeting, Mukherjee hosted an 'Iftar' reception for participating SAARC delegations.

Earlier in the day, EAM had a series of bilateral meetings. The meeting with the foreign minister of Brazil was held in a cordial atmosphere.

At the meeting with the Israeli minister, the two leaders reviewed the cordial bilateral relationship - reviewing existing cooperation, and examining areas for further cooperation such as high-technology.

The leaders also had a cordial and frank discussion regarding the situation in the West Asia.

During the meeting with the Secretary-General of NATO, there was a discussion on the international security situation, with particular reference to the situation in Afghanistan. The two leaders emphasized the importance of continued international cooperation in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

During Mukherjee"s meeting with the EU High Representative, the two reviewed preparations for the forthcoming annual India-EU Summit, in the overall context of further expansion of the rapidly developing relationship.

Later in the evening, Mukherjee left for Washington to lead the Indian delegation to the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change, convened by the US State Department.


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