Special Correspondent

It will help New Delhi with its economic security and growth: Treasury Secretary

KOLKATA: India will have to “work through its internal, political decisions” regarding the civilian nuclear deal. The U.S. government has been “encouraging it to go forward [with the deal] as quickly as possible,” U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. Paulson Jr. said at Amtala near here on Sunday.

The U.S. believes “it is a very important deal,” he told journalists. “We, in our country, think that it [the deal] is very good and useful, and is going to help India with its economic security and growth and with the environmental issues were are all facing.”

Mr. Paulson was on a visit to Amtala, in South 24 Parganas district, to participate in a private sector initiative aimed at bringing financial services directly to the people in rural areas.

“I am a big believer in the role of financial services to empower people,” he said. “The Indian government is focussed on making sure that the benefits of economic growth are shared throughout the country with all Indian people so that they can access credit, facilitate savings vehicles and obtain insurance. Private sector initiatives such as this are critical to that effort.”

Trade with West Bengal

Later, he held a 45-minute meeting with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the Secretariat. They reportedly discussed the nuclear deal as well as prospects of U.S. investment in the State and greater bilateral cooperation in trade and commerce.

Though there was no official briefing on what transpired at the meeting, Mr. Paulson earlier in the day said: “I am sure we will talk about it [the nuclear deal] … Energy is so important.”

“I have heard very good things about the Chief Minister.” He is an “economic reformer doing his best to bring investment to this area of the country,” he remarked.

Later, Mr. Paulson met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and some industrialists over lunch.

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