Certain clauses within India’s civil nuclear liability legislation continue to “cause concerns to some of our companies,” and “that is still something that needs to be addressed,” said Robert Blake, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
While Mr. Blake reiterated that the U.S. welcomed the fact that the Government of India had signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation, he added in response to a question from The Hindu, “We urge our Indian friends to consult with the International Atomic Energy Agency to make sure that their own legislation is in conformance with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation.”
Overall there had been some progress in this area of India-U.S. cooperation, “but [there is] still work to be done,” the Assistant Secretary noted, remarking specifically that following the signing of the MoU on the Early Works Agreement between Westinghouse and the Nuclear Power Cooperation of India earlier this year, that it was “important now to start developing some of these early works, like site preparation, like getting contracts ready, and so forth.”
Mr. Blake’s comments came even as bilateral cooperation got a boost from the first ever U.S.-India-Afghanistan trilateral dialogue, held on the margins of the UNGA. “With respect to India, since it’s South Asia’s largest economy, we see it really as a natural partner which is in a unique position to promote economic growth and stability [in Afghanistan],” he noted.
Indicating the likelihood of further such trilateral meetings he said that the parties in New York had agreed that this was a “useful consultation mechanism.” While no specific date for the next meeting had been confirmed, Mr. Blake pointed out, “We’re often attending many of the same multilateral conferences such as the UNGA. So we agreed that it would be useful to continue to meet on a regular basis.”
On broader discussions between India and the U.S. he said at a briefing that several senior State Department officials held meetings with Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai to discuss issues such as people-to-people exchanges, and they were hoping to set up a meeting between the Secretary of State and the External Affairs Minister.