India and the United States on Monday held talks on several issues, mainly the civil nuclear issue, in a follow-up to the Manmohan Singh-Barack Obama meeting in Indonesia last month.
Visiting Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said Indian interlocutors, including Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, agreed on the need for “full implementation” of the civil nuclear agreement, during his meetings with them.
They also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and prospects of increasing economic cooperation in areas where the trans-Atlantic corporations are traditionally strong. Multibrand retail, one area for such investments from the U.S. and Western Europe, has been put on hold, but opportunities can arise in the aviation and pension fund sectors.
Washington sought greater clarity on the rules for the Nuclear Liability Act, especially with regard to the limits on compensation to be paid by equipment suppliers in case of an accident. American firms have slowed plans to set up nuclear plants in India because of apprehensions over the liability clause.
India too feels the U.S. has not fully implemented the nuclear agreement, especially with respect to transfer of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technology and equipment. In fact, South Block feels the anti-proliferation lobby in Congress and the State Department were active in the build-up to this June's Nuclear Suppliers Group plenary, which tightened the ENR equipment and technology export rules.
“We had very productive discussions on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues. We stressed our shared interest in expanding our economic cooperation [and] our shared commitment to the full implementation of the Civil Nuclear Agreement,” Mr. Burns told newspersons after his meetings with Mr. Menon and Mr. Mathai, which was followed by an interaction with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna. He also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Mr. Burns said the U.S. government was paying “high-level attention” to its ties with India and cautioned against “dramatic breakthroughs or announcements” at every interaction.
“But I think every day we can continue with our hard, steady work on building and strengthening the relationship that matters great to our two governments and our people.”