India on Wednesday once again called on the U.S. to ease controls on export of hi-tech but dual use technology now that India had been accepted in the global civil nuclear commerce mainstream on the basis of its non-proliferation commitments and record.
In a meeting between National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and his visiting American counterpart General (retired) James Jones, the two officials also discussed the Afghan situation in the run-up to the Kabul conference next week. The U.S. has made it a point to take India onboard after New Delhi was upset over being largely ignored in the earlier international meetings on Afghanistan in Ankara and London. Sources here said U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke separately briefed Indian Ambassador to U.S. Meera Shankar in Washington on his recent visit to the region.
India is reported to have reiterated its unhappiness on continuance of technology sanctions against some prominent Indian private and public sector companies nearly two years after the India-U.S. civil nuclear deal. Analysts here pointed out that in contrast, Japan, where public opinion is much more sensitive on nuclear issues, has removed several Indian entities from the end users list days after beginning talks on a civil nuclear agreement.
The issue of curbs was raised prominently during the Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue co-chaired by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington last month,
General Jones is believed to have referred to the difficulties posed by U.S. domestic laws and hoped that Washington would be able to have some news on the issue by the time President Barack Obama arrives here in November. The U.S. official, in turn, sought information on the status of the Limited Nuclear Liability Bill. He was told the Bill is being examined by a select parliamentary committee. U.S. companies will be unable to set up civil nuclear reactors in India till the law is passed.
General Jones also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and is likely to meet Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday before flying back. Sources said his visit should be seen as preparing the ground for Mr. Obama's visit and keeping the dialogue going with India on Afghanistan.
Another important regional issue touched upon by both sides was Iran with Indian conveying its reservations about the West attempting to squeeze Iran through sanctions. India has opposed sanctions, from Myanmar to Iran, as it feels past experience has shown that the brunt is borne by the common man while the ruling dispensation is not so hard hit.