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India, US agree defence pact, approve nuclear sites

Wrapping a day of hectic political engagements, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna announced the conclusion of three important agreements. It includes the creation of a Science & Technology Endowment Board, a Technical Safeguards Agreement and a pact that would allow the sale of sophisticated US arms to India. Tushar Srivastava reports.

delhi Updated: Jul 21, 2009 00:07 IST
Tushar Srivastava

Wrapping a day of hectic political engagements, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna announced the conclusion of three important agreements.

“Our governments have concluded three important agreements on the creation of a Science & Technology Endowment Board, a Technical Safeguards Agreement and we have agreed on End-Use Monitoring (EUM) arrangements that will henceforth be referred to in letters of acceptance for Indian procurement of US defence technology and equipment,” Krishna said on Monday, addressing a joint press conference with Clinton.

Clinton departs on Tuesday.

The EUM will pave the way for greater defence cooperation and allow the sale of sophisticated US arms to India.

New Delhi also approved two sites for US companies to build nuclear power plants. “I am pleased Prime Minister Singh told me that sites for two nuclear parks for US companies have been approved by the government,” she said.

And, in what could be seen as more proof of growing closeness between India and the US, Clinton said PM Manmohan Singh would be the first foreign leader to make a state visit to the US under the Barack Obama administration.

Clinton, Washington’s top diplomat, extended the invitation to Singh, on Obama’s behalf, for a state visit to Washington on November 24, which was accepted.

The joint statement said the two countries were committed to building an enhanced strategic partnership that seeks to advance solutions to the defining challenges of our time.

“Minister Krishna and Secretary Clinton will chair an ‘India-US Strategic Dialogue’ that meets once annually in alternate capitals. This will focus on a range of bilateral, global and regional issues of shared interest and concern, continuing programmes under implementation and taking mutually beneficial initiatives that complement Indian and US development, security and economic interests,” it said.

The first round of the strategic dialogue will be held in Washington later this year.

Among the issues deliberated were advancing common security interests against common threats posed by terrorism, enhanced cooperation in defence, seeking a world without nuclear weapons.

“With this goal in sight, Krishna and Clinton agreed to move ahead in the Conference on Disarmament towards a non-discriminatory, internationally and effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty,” it said. “Building on the success of the India-US Civil Nuclear Initiative, on July 21, India and the US will begin consultations on reprocessing arrangements and procedures,” the statement added.

Clinton sought to clear the controversy surrounding the G-8 decision to curb transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technology, making it clear it would not undermine the nuclear deal but was aimed at preventing “unauthorised” countries from getting such sensitive knowhow.