Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 25
Ending a six-year old stalemate in operationalising the path-breaking civil nuclear agreement, India and the United States today announced policy resolution on two key issues paving the way for a nuclear trade within the ambit of domestic laws and international obligations.
"I am pleased that six years after we signed our bilateral agreement, we are moving towards commercial cooperation, consistent with our law, our international legal obligations, and technical and commercial viability", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a joint media conference at the end of bilateral talks with US President Barack Obama.
Obama arrived here this morning to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade tomorrow. After a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, he paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at the Rajghat before reaching Hyderabad House for talks.
Later, Obama attended a banquet hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee in his honour. At the joint media interaction, President Obama said there was a "breakthrough' in civil nuclear deal and both sides have sorted out the two pending issues. The US companies were concerned over the Indian nuclear liability laws that apply to the equipment suppliers in the event of an accident. They have also demanded tracking of fuel supplied by US and other countries for the proposed nuclear power plants. While India will create an insurance pool to tackle the nuclear liability issue, on tracking it said the matter will be dealt with under the IAEA safeguards.
Apart from the major thrust in the civil nuclear area, both Modi and Obama issued a 59-point statement encompassing the entire gamut of relationship, decided to renew the decade-old defence framework agreement for another 10 years and within it opened the defence technology and trade initiative. Both India and the US issued a Delhi declaration of friendship — Shared Effort, Progress for All — in keeping with national principles and committing to hold regular summits with increased periodicity, elevate strategic dialogue, establish hotlines between the Prime Minister and the US President and national security advisers, besides cooperating to develop joint ventures on strategically significant projects.
On clean energy, the US is keen to work with India on the ambitious project of 100 gigawatt of solar energy by 2022 and air monitoring for megacities. On Climate Change, Prime Minister Modi said there was an urgent need to address the issue. He, however, said there was no pressure to work out an arrangement that the US has with China.
Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said both sides have broken the logjam of past few years and reached an understanding with the US that will pave the way to operationalise the 123 Agreement and Civil Nuclear Liability that conforms to both bilateral legal agreements and practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
India has decided to set up a risk management insurance pool of Rs1,500 crore with 4 general insurance companies in public sector contributing Rs 750 crore and the balance by the Government of India on tapering basis. Amandeep Singh, Joint Secretary in charge of the issue, said there are 26 such pools working elsewhere and the US has promised to work out the cost, and share information on best practices on the subject.
"The civil nuclear agreement was the centrepiece of our transformed relationship, which demonstrated new trust. It also created new economic opportunities and expanded our option for clean energy", the Foreign Secretary said.
On its part, the White House separately told the American media that the understanding on the civil nuclear programme resolves the US concerns on both tracking and liability and it will be for US companies to assess the market. General Electric and Westinghouse, have been in the race to supply nuclear reactors to two parks allocated to the United States earlier.
The movement forward on the nuclear issue came after specific directions from the political leadership on either side, a fact confirmed by the Foreign Secretary who said they played a key role leading to progress on this front.
India and the United States also issued a joint strategic vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region to support regional economic integration by accelerated infrastructure connectivity, safeguard maritime security in ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea.
PM breaks protocol
In a departure from protocol, Narendra Modi on Sunday received Barack Obama and his wife Michelle at the Palam airport, becoming the second Indian PM after Manmohan Singh to extend this special gesture to Obama. The sight of both leaders hugging each other was reminiscent of a similar bonhomie enjoyed by the US President with Singh. — PTI
A telegram for US Prez
Modi gifted Obama a copy of the first telegram from the US to India’s Constituent Assembly in 1946. The telegram was sent by then Acting Secy of State Dean Acheson to Sachchidananda Sinha, the provisional Chairman of the Constituent Assembly.— TNS
Their ‘chai pe charcha’
The US President made a special mention of “chai pe charcha”, a reference to Narendra Modi's pet theme to connect with the voters during the LS polls. Modi and Obama went for a walk at the Hyderabad House before settling in a special enclosure where the two leaders continued one-on-one talks over tea. —PTI
Obama's ‘pyaar bhara namaskar’
Barack Obama greeted the news conference in Hindi. “Namaste. Aap sabko mera pyaar bhara namaskar. (My greetings with love),” he said, ending the meet with another Hindi expression: “Chale saath saath (Let’s walk together)” — IANS