M A I N   N E W S

Indo-US N-deal by early 2006
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 21
Washington looks upon India as “a global partner” with which it has consciously decided to cooperate in a dizzying array of transnational challenges and as a major pointer to this the US Congress would approve the July 18 Indo-US nuclear deal before President George W. Bush visits New Delhi early next year.

This was stated by the visiting US Under Secretary for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns after his day-long talks with Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran here today. Mr Burns is here for two-day official talks with the Indian side headed by Mr Saran.

The Bush administration is according high priority in the current congressional session to modify existing legal restrictions that prohibit the US from sharing civil nuclear technology with India due to its status as a nonsignatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

After their talks at Hyderabad House, Mr Burns and Mr Saran addressed a joint press conference where they said the two sides also discussed the Indian part of obligation under the Indo-US nuclear deal for segregation of its military and civilian nuclear facilities for the purpose of throwing open civilian nuclear facilities for IAEA inspection.

On part of the US, Mr Burns said Washington knew that the Indian government would meet the commitments it had made to the United States and added that the US would also meet its commitments.

The two sides are working on the premise that by the time President Bush visits India in early 2006, both countries will have met their commitments under that landmark agreement.

Mr Burns said the United States had agreed to the nuclear deal with India because both sides stood to benefit from it. Mr Burns also conveyed to the Indian side Washington’s appreciation that India had protected its nuclear technology for 30 years and had not proliferated it.

Mr Saran said India explained its own viewpoint on segregation of military and civil nuclear facilities and apprised the Americans how India was already conforming to, and being a partner, to the global non-proliferation regime. Besides, India had delivered on many counts, the Foreign Secretary said, identifying harmonisation of exports control list with the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) .

Today’s discussions focussed on all aspects of the July 18 Joint Statement signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s bilateral visit to the US. Tomorrow’s talks are also important as the Iran issue is certain to come up when the two sides discuss regional situation. Mr Burns will also call on External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh and hold talks with National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan tomorrow.

Before coming here, Mr Burns addressed the Asia Society in New York on October 18 where he said that in the coming years India will become one of the United States’ most important strategic partners. “We are going to confront over the next half century a dizzying array of transnational challenges — global climate change; terrorism; the proliferation of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons; illicit drugs; international crime; trafficking in women and children. American interests and Indian interests converge on each one of these problems. The world would benefit from the military, economic, and political assets that India can bring to challenge each of these problems,” he said.

Mr Burns had told the Asia Society that: “For the first time in 30 years, India had agreed to take on key global non-proliferation commitments. India has guaranteed it will open up its system and take all the necessary steps to bring it into compliance with the great central nonproliferation norms that lay at the heart of international treaties.”

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