The United States on Thursday said it was talking to India on “adapting and reforming” its export control laws so that “India can be treated as a partner and not as a target.”
This is the first official indication, given by U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns, that Washington is amenable to New Delhi's desire for complete implementation of the India-U.S. agreement that helped end India's isolation from the global civil nuclear mainstream.
‘Realise full potential'
Mr. Burns said the U.S. was “committed to working together to realise the full potential of the historic civil nuclear agreement between the two countries.”
“We are determined to work together to make good progress,” said Mr. Burns, while addressing journalists after meeting External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.
Mr. Burns was accompanied by U.S. Assistant Secretary for South Asia Robert Blake. It is billed as a decisive visit to firm up the deliverables that could be announced during President Barack Obama's visit to the country a fortnight later.
Mr. Burns said his meeting with Ms. Rao to discuss the “rich agenda” during the visit was “excellent.”
He hoped the presidential visit would provide an “enormous opportunity” to interact on several issues, including agriculture, health, education, greater defence cooperation and counter-terrorism cooperation.
“In all these areas, there is extraordinary promise and extraordinary opportunity and we are determined to continue to working together and as I told you, I believe we are making good progress,” he said.
The two officials are scheduled to travel to Kolkata for an interaction with West Bengal Governor and former National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, who was part of the team that shepherded the India-U.S. nuclear agreement.
With the Nuclear Suppliers Group providing an exemption to India, New Delhi has been calling on the U.S. to ease export control laws. India says these restrictions are now outdated as they are aimed at forcing it to fall in line with international non-proliferation norms.
India has long claimed that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is discriminatory and its norms that allow only a few countries to maintain nuclear stockpiles smacks of apartheid.
During her recent visit to Washington, Ms. Rao urged the U.S. to ease restrictions on transferring high technology to India. She also expressed concern over the developing U.S. antipathy to outsourcing.
Close U.S. ally Japan removed 11 Indian companies from the end user list in July but added four new ones. More than being eligible for high-tech trade, it will make it easier for some of the companies removed from the list to enter into tie-ups with the Japanese companies in their other areas of strength.
The necessity of obtaining permission to align with Indian companies on the restricted list often dissuaded Japanese companies as this process added to their costs.