U.S. nuclear firms' concerns will be addressed: Nirupama Rao

DELHI: United States President Barack Obama's maiden visit to India has so far been devoid of any big announcement and will, instead, concentrate on taking the six-year-old dialogue between the two sides, begun with the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP), forward on a large number of issues.

A summit-level meeting here on Monday will see Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr. Obama carrying forward their earlier discussions on issues that include the stalled entry of U.S. nuclear companies, elimination of American curbs on export of hi-tech and dual use items to India, formulation of an action plan on cooperation in counter-terrorism, the setting up of a centre on pandemics, extension of cooperation in agriculture to specifics and tie-ups in the space sector.

Economic and trade and military and security cooperation will be the other two major components of Mr. Obama's visit.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said that with increasing maturity of the strategic dialogue, both sides thought there was need to have a fresh look at export controls and ban on transfer of dual use items with the aim of ultimately “eliminating them.” “Discussions so far have covered a lot of ground and we are reasonably optimistic of the outcome,” she noted.

As Washington was not happy with the Civil Liability Law, India invited U.S. nuclear companies to visit India “very shortly.” Representatives of the Department of Atomic Energy and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited would meet officials of U.S. nuclear companies to address any concerns they may have, she said.

Describing the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks as a “wake-up call” to the intelligence agencies of both countries, Ms. Rao said the Memorandum of Understanding on counter-terrorism would be carried forward by drawing up an action plan to concentrate on specific aspects such as coastal city and securing mega cities.

In the defence sector, discussions were continuing for purchase of heavy military transport aircraft C-17 Globemaster.

In the space sector, both sides have been talking on a commercial space launch agreement and the Obama visit would see them examining the text of a possible agreement to take forward an earlier MoU.

Similarly, the MoU on agriculture would be extended to weather and crop forecasting.

The Foreign Secretary said discussions were continuing on the issue of a permanent seat for India in an expanded U.N. Security Council.

More In: National | News