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2nd phase of Indo-US talks from Oct 20
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
The implementation of Phase I of Indo-US Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) has begun with right earnest and negotiations for the second phase will start on October 20 when US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca holds talks with her Indian counterparts here.

Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs and the US Embassy here told The Tribune that Phase I of the NSSP, cleared by the two countries last month, had already reached the implementation stage.

An Indo-US High Technology Cooperation Group Review meeting was held this morning in the Ministry of External Affairs with the visiting Under Secretary in the US Department of Commerce, Mr Ken Juster, leading the American delegation and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran leading the Indian side.

This was the first meeting between the two sides since the successful conclusion of the NSSP in Washington on September 17. In the Review carried out by the two sides, MEA spokesman Navtej Sarna said, the following measures were agreed upon:

1. Ms Christina Rocca will be visiting New Delhi from October 20, 2004 for the first meeting of the NSSP Phase I Implementation Group. The Group will be headed by Mr S Jaishankar, Joint Secretary (Americas), on the Indian side. While discussing steps for implementing the understanding reached in NSSP-1, the Group will also prepare the ground for the commencement of negotiations on Phase II of the NSSP, which will have a broader scope and application.

2. The Review meeting also discussed action already taken on several pending items, and identified new ideas for collaboration in bio-technology especially in view of the more liberalized licensing regime envisaged under the NSSP process.

3. The Co-chairman of the HTCG will together address a FICCI-sponsored Round Table in High Technology Commerce between India and the U.S. tomorrow, and business circles in India in order to familiarize them with the procedures as well as the potential of high technology commerce between India and the U.S.

4. The Review meeting expressed satisfaction at the increased volume as well as volume of export of dual use technologies and products from the U.S. to India during the past 3 years.

5. The next HTCG meeting will be held in November, 2004, in Washington.

An American diplomat here said both countries had taken steps forward in NSSP Phase I and had made “enormous progress” in High Technology and strategic issues.

Besides, Washington and New Delhi, the diplomat said, had made good progress on sale of dual use technology. At the same time, the diplomat hastened to add that “One should not look at major developments in a given day.”

Diplomatic sources said the total American exports to India (both licensed and unlicensed) in the year 2003 were to the tune of $ 4.8 billion and this fiscal year till July 31, the figure had already reached $ 4.6 billion. Of this, the dual-use technology exports from US to India was to the tune of 90 million dollars this year as compared to the much lesser figure of 26 million US dollars earlier. Two major achievements of NSSP I, according to MEA sources, are that the Indian Space Research (ISRO) headquarters was removed from the US Entity List. Secondly, a number of items on the lower-end technology list were delicensed.

The lower-end technology items account for 80 per cent of the total licenses for ISRO and 30 % for the whole of India.

“What we are doing here is that we are moving the base higher. If the base is moved higher the top will automatically go higher,” sources said.

Another substantial achievement of the NSSP I was that now American atomic energy equipment outside the reactor would be available for sale to India. However, the sale of American atomic reactors would continue to be out of bounds for India.

Meanwhile, Mr Ken Juster today appeared non-committal on the issue of lifting sanctions against two Indian nuclear scientists for allegedly cooperating with Iran. “We have not imposed sanctions against India as a country. We have imposed penalties on certain individuals... this is an ongoing issue between the two governments,” Mr Juster told reporters.

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