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Burns, Saran meet sets stage for Bush visit

By Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
Last updated on: October 22, 2005 14:23 IST
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US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran discussed a time-table for both sides to fulfil the commitments made in the July 18 agreement agreed upon by President George Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier this year.

Both sides agreed that by the time Bush arrives in India next year the actual nuclear agreement will be ready to be signed. This will help resumption of supplies to Indian civilian nuclear reactors.

"We are already conforming to and becoming a partner in the global non-proliferation regime," Saran said and asserted that by the time Bush visits, "We hope we will have an implementable agreement".

During his second visit to New Delhi in less than five months Burns described India as a "great power in the world" and said the US was seeking a partnership where the two countries could work together for peace and stability of the world and "face challenges" that are likely to emerge over the next 40 to 50 years.

A senior Indian diplomat, who took part in the negotiations, said, "The glamorous part was over on July 18. Now the business begins. There was no drama about this."

Burns was careful to address Indian fears that the US would add more conditions before actually meeting its commitments.

"We are not adding any conditions. We will meet the obligations we have undertaken," he said and hoped India will abide by its obligations.

In the morning meeting between Burns and Saran both sides took stock of the issues mentioned in July 18 agreement like agriculture, co-operation in HIV–AIDS, co-operation in energy and science and technology.

Civilian nuclear cooperation was taken up in an exclusive afternoon session. Both sides discussed how far they have progressed in three months and listed the actual deliverables before Bush's visit.

In the joint press conference after their meeting, Saran acknowledged that India had certain responsibilities and emphasised that "we have delivered on some of them".

Burns was given a list of things India has already complied with like; unilateral declaration of non-proliferation, bringing about of legislation on Weapons of Mass Destruction and a commitment to work with US on new global standards on reprocessing and enrichment technology being exported to third countries.

Both sides had sought "certain clarifications" and further discussions on these will be held in the next JWG meeting to
take the process forward.

Saran exuded confidence that the deal would be passed by the US Congress. "There is significant support for it on Capitol Hill and we do not see the opposition by a few becoming an impediment," he said.

Asked whether the postponement of the meeting of the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group would have a fall-out on the nuclear deal, Burns said, "Washington was under obligation to see that NSG countries also undertake requisite steps for similar cooperation with India."

US has sent two senior officers to the NSG to advocate India's case and to explain that why this is a good agreement.

Burns also announced that the dialogue is on track to have a partnership in the space sector too.

After the meeting a senior diplomat said, "We didn't get the impression that Burns was not satisfied. The meeting was largely positive and we have exchanged information on deliverables in every area of our partnership."



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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi