With likely changes in the text of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver creating anxiety in India, the US on Monday assured that Washington and New Delhi will "stand shoulder-to-shoulder" in pushing for "a clean exemption" in the NSG that controls global export of nuclear fuel and know-how.
"The US and India stand shoulder-to-shoulder in their desire for a clean exemption and we will continue to work with our Indian partners to persuade the NSG countries that such an exemption is in the international community's best interest," US Ambassador to India David Mulford said in a statement in New Delhi.
The envoy underlined the US' "commitment to working with India to rapidly complete the remaining steps necessary to conclude the US-India civil nuclear cooperation initiative".
"Ahead of the scheduled NSG plenary on Sepember 4, the US and India will continue our vigorous joint advocacy for the initiative at the highest levels of NSG governments," Mulford said.
Mulford's assurance comes amid criticism from some sections in India that the US was not doing its bit to fulfil its commitment under the July 18, 2005, India-US joint statement by persuading friends and allies to adjust their international regimes for global nuclear cooperation with New Delhi.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia Richard Boucher Monday met senior officials of the external affairs ministry to discuss issues relating to the NSG exemption and reiterated Washington's commitment to getting a clean exemption for India in the NSG.
Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon will hold talks with US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns in Washington later in the day to fine tune the language of the exemption that will accommodate concerns of sceptical NSG countries as well as interests of India before it is discussed by the NSG next month.
Sceptics at the NSG, including Scandinavian countries, Ireland, Austria and Switzerland, have reportedly demanded changes in the draft of the waiver to include their concerns about testing, periodic review of India's compliance and restricting export of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies.
India is pushing for a clean waiver and has made it clear that it will not accept any "prescriptive conditionalities" that could effectively sabotage the deal.