India and U. S. begin talks on global issues

India and the United States began talks Wednesday on how they can cooperate on global issues such as promotion of democracy, human rights, environmental protection and humanitarian relief, ahead of a visit by U.S. President George W. Bush to New Delhi, officials said.

The two sides are expected to discuss the possibility of India training Iraqi government officials as well as Afghan diplomats and parliamentarians, an Indian official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

Paula Dobrainsky, the U.S. undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs, who is leading the U.S. side in the talks, said they would focus on democracy, human rights, health, science, environment, humanitarian relief, migration and illegal human trafficking. "This underscores not only the strength of our relationship, but also the extent to which we discuss a wide variety of issues," she said. The two-day talks are to end Thursday.

India-U.S. relations have recently improved following decades of friction. During a trip to the United States in July, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Bush signed a landmark civil nuclear cooperation deal, which must be approved by the U.S. Congress before it can be enacted. Last month, Bush announced that he would visit India and Pakistan in March, reports the AP. I.L.

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