Interview With CNN-IBN and Star TV

Robert O. Blake, Jr.
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
Patna, India
June 18, 2011

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I’m here in India first to help prepare for the next U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue which will take place in mid to late July. So I’ll be meeting on Monday and Tuesday with my counterparts in the Ministry of External Affairs to help prepare for those very very important meetings. I had a few extra days and though I’d first go to Kolkata to pay my respects to the new Chief Minister there and see all the important things going on in West Bengal; and then I had an extra day so I wanted to come to Patna because again, there have been quite important changes taking place in Bihar, and I wanted to explore opportunities to cooperate between the United States and India.

QUESTION: [Inaudible] U.S. and [inaudible] process.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: We are. We have some very important agricultural development projects underway here between our U.S. Agency for International Development in cooperation with the Bill Gates Foundation and the International Rice Research Institute to help develop new rice and maize varieties here, to help develop new agricultural practices, to help with climate change. Also productivity.

We’re also working to help improve urban health particularly water and sanitation practices that take such a high toll on child mortality. So there are quite a lot of efforts underway there. There are also some private sector things going on.

QUESTION: Did you also [inaudible]?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I didn’t have time. I just had meetings with the Deputy Chief Minister, the head of the opposition, and then some of the NGOs and others.

QUESTION: [Inaudible]?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Sorry, the Chief Minister is in China right now.

QUESTION: You will be here tomorrow?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I have to go to Delhi, unfortunately.

QUESTION: [Inaudible]. You will be in Delhi tomorrow?


QUESTION: My counterparts will be [inaudible] because --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I’m sure. [Laughter]. I know them well.

QUESTION: [Inaudible].


QUESTION: What did you discuss with the opposition leader?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: We had a bit of discussion about everything. We talked about the political situation, about the economic situation. As you might expect, he doesn’t want to give too much credit to the Chief Minister, --

QUESTION: [Inaudible].

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Yes. Anyway, thanks a lot for the opportunity.

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