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Rice Kicks off India Visit

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in New Delhi Tuesday on a less than 24-hour visit, during which she will hold talks with External Affairs Minister K.Natwar Singh on bilateral, regional and international issues, Indo-Asian News Service reported.

This is Rice's first visit to India and the region and the first by a member of US President George W. Bush's cabinet in his second term.

Rice has chosen New Delhi for her first stop of her six-nation Asia tour that will also take her to Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Japan and South Korea.

Her official engagements are all slated for Wednesday, when she will hold delegation-level talks with Natwar Singh, call on Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before leaving for Pakistan late afternoon.

Indian officials said further expansion of bilateral cooperation in technology, economy and security and the regional situation, including the situation in Nepal, Bangladesh and the India-Pakistan dialogue, would figure in the talks.

The two sides are also expected to discuss developments in Iraq and assess their ongoing cooperation in Afghanistan.

Officials said Rice's visit precedes those by US Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, Treasury Secretary John Snow and perhaps President Bush himself later in the year.

(Xinhua News Agency March 16, 2005)

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