Harish Khare

“Even if the nuclear deal is not consummated before Bush leaves office, it will not suffer”

“This kind of qualitative transformation in a relationship is based on mutual interest”

India to open two more Consulates in the U.S.

WASHINGTON: Aware of the problems that the India-United States civilian nuclear agreement was encountering at the hands of difficult American lawmakers, the senior officials in the visiting Prime Minister’s entourage were keen to assert that there was much more to the “transformed” relationship than the “n-deal,” and that this relationship would survive Mr. Bush’s departure from the White House.

On Thursday, Mr. Bush himself expressed his fascination with the Indian democratic project. He told the Prime Minister at the White House that “I’ll never forget my visit to your country, Mr. Prime Minister. It’s — I remember telling my friends when I got back what an exciting place India is. There is a vibrancy and an energy, and there’s an entrepreneurial spirit that’s very strong. And I congratulate you and your government for enhancing that entrepreneurial spirit.”

This personal admiration for India not withstanding, the Indian foreign policy was preparing to adjust itself for a post-Bush era.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told the media that even if the nuclear deal was not consummated before Mr. Bush left office on January 20, 2009, the agreement would not suffer.

“My own expectation is that this has something which has bipartisan support, both [American presidential] candidates have expressed support after the NSG clearance. As you can see, in the Congress there is bipartisan support, but the fact is that they do have other things to do. So it is really a function of their own process. I don’t think it is a lack of will or support,” said Mr. Menon.

The transformation in the relationship extended to the fields of education, defence cooperation, investments, argued Mr. Menon. “This kind of qualitative transformation in a relationship is based on mutual interest and mutual benefit. It is not dependent on government.”

For the record, as spelled out by the officials, the new transformed relationship pivots around many non-nuclear agreements: India-U.S. Educational Cooperation, India-U.S. Agricultural Knowledge Initiative, India-U.S. Civil Aviation Cooperation, India-U.S. Defence Cooperation, India-U.S. Energy Dialogue, India-U.S. Economic Partnership, India-U.S. Health Cooperation, and India-U.S. High Technology Cooperation Group.

Mr. Menon announced that India would open two more Consulates in the United States — in Seattle and Atlanta — to cater to the growing commercial and trade relationships around these two cities.

Related links:
  • US House of Representatives Bill on N-deal
  • Working hard to get deal approved as quickly as possible: Bush
  • Manmohan seeks satisfactory approval for deal
  • Foreign Affairs panel chief Berman backs deal
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