The U.S. and India will attempt to close the nuclear agreement by trying to resolve the remaining issues, including reprocessing, during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s four-day visit to Washington beginning on Saturday, U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer told newspersons here on Wednesday.
“We are optimistic that all these issues will be resolved soon. We are pushing hard,” Mr. Roemer said in response to a question on the steps required to complete the India-U.S. civil nuclear deal.
He identified the pending issues as enactment of legislation on liability by India, negotiations on setting up of dedicated reprocessing facility in India and licensing aspects. “We have made tremendous progress in all these areas,” he added.
India has already announced two sites for nuclear parks in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat to fulfil its assurance of giving 10,000 MWe worth of nuclear energy business to U.S. companies. “It is a win-win situation for both of us” that would enable both countries to move from one issue to “four or five big global issues.” U.S. President Barack Obama and Dr. Singh are expected to come out with a joint statement reflecting their intention to join hands in resolving issues of strategic global importance such as terrorism, climate change, food security, poverty alleviation and green technology.
Mr. Roemer said terrorism emanating from Pakistan and the situation in Afghanistan would be the other high points of talks between the two leaders and noted the intelligence sharing between the Indian and U.S. agencies on a “daily, monthly and weekly basis.”
As the anniversary of the Mumbai attacks approaches later this month, Mr. Roemer expected both leaders to discuss the course of subsequent events and reiterated Washington’s desire to walk “shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand” on this issue.
The U.S., he said, would like Pakistan to prosecute the seven militants suspected to have masterminded the Mumbai attacks in November last as well as bring Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Sayeed to justice.
“I have been asked time and again and the U.S. has consistently stated that we need to see action and resolve from our friends in the Government of Pakistan … our Pakistani friends need to recognise this internal threat,” he said.
The U.S. Ambassador also expected Dr. Singh and Mr. Obama to have “healthy and robust” discussions about the AfPak strategy, including the troop-civilian surge component, Washington’s intent to combine defence diplomacy with developmental issues and the need for Pakistan to strategise better on its side of the border.
On intelligence cooperation, he noted the testimony given in Indian courts by U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation sleuths as well as their filing of key evidence that enabled the putting forward of a fool-proof case against the “blood-thirsty terrorists.”
At multiple levels
Pointing out that cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism was taking place at multiple levels, Mr. Roemer said he felt Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram had captured this aspect the best when he spoke about the useful visits by Indian agents to the U.S.
The intention is to enable seamless direct cooperation in intelligence sharing and transferring of technologies to combat global terror groups on a regional and international scale.
Manmohan’s four-day visit to U.S. starts on Saturday
Terrorism, Afghanistan situation will figure in talks: Roemer