Unfazed by Left criticism, PM okays visit to US for energy talks

Written by Mukesh Ranjan | New Delhi, Aug 30 | Updated: Aug 31 2007, 04:53am hrs
Even as the Left opposition to anti-Americanism has become shriller in the wake of the 123 agreement, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has quietly cleared a three- day visit of a high-level group to the United States to hold discussions on energy with the Bush administration.

The group, which will leave for Washington on September 21, will be led by deputy chairman, Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and the US national economic council director Allan Hubbard as part of the Indo-US economic dialogue. The focus of talks, will be in the area of conventional energy including oil and gas, coal, power and energy efficiency and new technologies.The meeting, which will be co-chaired by Montek and Hubbard, is a business negotiating mechanism between the two countries.

The PMs approval to the visit would suggest that he remains unfazed by the vocal criticism of the Left that the 123 pact is part of a wider strategic co-operation. As per the areas defined under energy segment, there exist five working groups visiting the US from September 21 to seek further co-operation in an effort to ensure energy security for the country, sources in the government said. Growing concerns vis-a-vis energy security had prompted India and the US to launch the energy dialogue.

The goals of the Dialogue are to promote increased trade and investment in the energy sector by working with the public and private sectors to further identify areas of cooperation and collaboration. Building upon the broad range of existing cooperation, it is hoped that the effort will help mobilize secure, clean reliable and affordable sources of energy an official said.