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John Kerry, US Secretary of State, is coming to India in the last week of June 2013 for the third strategic dialogue. He will co-chair this dialogue along with his counterpart Salman Khurshid, Minister of External Affairs, India. The major issue for the talks will be the civil nuclear issue between US and India.

So,

  1. What is meant by Strategic Dialogue?

  2. Which topics can be discussed in this type of dialogue?

  3. Is Strategic Dialogue specifically present only in the US-India relations or is it common between other nations too?

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If one were to look at the conversations between Roosevelt and Churchill during WW II, one would see the 'tactical' as focused on the immediate logistics of pursuing the war against Hitler. This would be 'lend-lease', intelligence sharing, etc.

'Strategic' dialog, in comparison, is what happens afterwards. In this context the US asked Britain to give up it's colonies in order to give self-determination to more of the world. The US preferred to deal directly with the leaders of free states rather than channel diplomatic efforts through Great Britain.

The South Asian chessboard is pretty complicated. There is the India/China faceoff, the India/Pakistan faceoff, environmental and workplace safety concerns with Bangladesh, and Afghanistan in terms of India's support as a counterweight to Pakistan. Thus the US has a lot of interests in the region, and some of these are in common with India and some are not. Therefore, the US offers to bargain, but for these discussions the focus is on long term outcomes. What would be necessary in terms of long term policies, for example, to allow the Pakistan/Indian issue to settle down?

The US has a concern about global warming. India as a country with a large population is burning a lot of coal and oil, and will do more so as it grows. Therefore the US could promote the idea of a civilian nuclear power industry that would be cleaner than coal, however it would be necessary to account for the proliferation dimension of the nuclear option. This would involve not merely an agreement with the present government, but a sign-on by other interest groups that feel that they have a stake in the matter. This discussion will eventually have to be routed through those groups. This will take some time, perhaps years.

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  1. What it says on the label. Dialogue (meaning, 2 sides are conversing) on topics of strategic importance between two parties.

  2. Anything, but typically this seems to be high level trade/economics issues; and war/peace topics (frequently related to WMDs o rworld's hot spots).

  3. Definitely not confined to India. E.g. see "U.S. - China Strategic and Economic Dialogue" at US Treasury. Or "Russia-UK strategic dialogue"

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