A top US diplomat in charge of policymaking in the areas of international security, security assistance, military operations and defence will join Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel during his India visit later this week, the State Department said today.
Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Puneet Talwar, will travel to India with Hagel to attend the first cabinet-level defence talks between the two countries under the new Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Hagel is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on Thursday and is expected to hold talks with his Indian counterpart, Arun Jaitley, on Friday. He is also likely to call on Modi, and meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
Talwar will join Hagel for discussions with senior officials on security cooperation and defence trade. This visit follows the fifth annual India-US Strategic Dialogue, co-chaired by Secretary of State John Kerry and Swaraj in New Delhi last week. "The United States and India have significantly broadened their defence cooperation, as demonstrated by our bilateral dialogues, military exercises, military personnel exchanges, and nearly USD 9 billion in defence trade since 2008," the State Department said. The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs supports the Department of Defence's US-India Defence Trade and Technology Initiative, and seeks opportunities to expand peacekeeping, counter-piracy, and security cooperation, the statement said.
Talwar, who played a key role in negotiations with Iran, during his tenure at the National Security Council at the White House, is one of two Indian-American diplomats at the level of Assistant Secretary of State at the State Department.
Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal, accompanied Kerry to New Delhi for the Strategic Dialogue last week.