With the India-US nuclear deal languishing three years after it was signed, US deputy secretary of state William Burns will hold talks with foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai on Monday in yet another diplomatic effort to iron out differences over the nuclear liability regime.
Burns comes in New Delhi on Sunday as part of the three-nation tour that includes besides India, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Announcing the visit in Washington, the state department said Burns will meet senior Indian officials "to discuss a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues, underscoring the continued growth in the strategic partnership".
In New Delhi, Burns is expected to hold talks with Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, who will be accompanied by Jawed Ashraf, joint secretary in charge of America, and other senior Indian officials. Burns is also expected to call on External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.
The talks are expected to focus on resolving issues related to India's nuclear liability regime that is seen by American nuclear companies as onerous and a deterrent to starting nuclear business with New Delhi.
The guidelines relating to the nuclear liability law were notified by the government last month. The issue figured prominently in discussions between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama when they met on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Bali last month. During the talks, India had made it clear that it will work within the framework of its domestic laws, indicating that it will not give in to any pressure from outside.
However, differences persist, and it will be the efforts of both sides to find some "common ground" on an issue that is holding up the operationalisation of the nuclear deal between the two countries, reliable sources said in New Delhi.
The US has so far withheld any public comment on the Implementation Rules relating to the civil nuclear liability law as it wants to avoid rhetoric in public.