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HindustanTimes Sun,26 Oct 2014

Obama-Singh meet may focus on civil nuclear deal

AFP  Washington, September 21, 2013
First Published: 11:07 IST(21/9/2013) | Last Updated: 11:12 IST(21/9/2013)

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting at White House next Friday is likely to focus on how to operationalise the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal and enhanced defence cooperation.

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This will be the third meeting between the two leaders in four years.

Signed in 2008, the nuclear deal which has been variously described in India as a "pillar of our strategic partnership", and a "symbol of our transformed relationship" has been stalled following India's tough 2010 nuclear liability law which makes suppliers too liable in the event of an accident.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters on Friday that the meeting is likely to focus on charting out a course toward enhanced trade, investment and development cooperation among other things.

He said the "bilateral meeting" at the White House follows Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington in 2009 and the president's memorable visit to India in 2010.

Earnest recalled that President Obama, who has described India-US relationship as one of the "defining partnerships of the 21st century" had chosen to invite Manmohan Singh for his presidency's first state dinner in November 2009.

Vice-president Joe Biden and US secretary of state John Kerry had visited India recently to set the stage for Singh's working visit, which is expected to focus on how to operationalise nuclear deal, enhanced defence cooperation and Afghanistan.

The two sides will also explore ways of expanding defence ties "beyond a buyer-seller relationship to a joint partnership in design, development and production of defence material".

As US deputy defence secretary Ashton Carter, who was in India this week in preparation of Manmohan Singh's visit, put it: "They (India) don't want to just buy our stuff. They want to build our stuff with us and they want to develop new things with us, and they want to do research with us."

Meanwhile, a key Obama aide has ruled out a meeting between Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.

Obama had a "good set of discussions" on the phone with Sharif when the US president called him after his electoral victory, White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes said on Friday.

"We do expect that we'd like to have a formal meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan in the near future. So it's a matter of making sure that we can find an appropriate time for both leaders to come together," he said.

The state department, which has been "encouraging" India and Pakistan to hold a dialogue, declined comment on a likely meeting between Manmohan Singh and Sharif over the next weekend.


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