A sweeping counterterrorism deal between India and the US will be the centrepiece of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coming Washington visit, say sources in Washington and New Delhi.
Though the two nations have worked on the issue since 9/11 and 26/11, the pact will institutionalise cooperation in areas that include intelligence sharing, legal issues, surveillance and interdiction technology.
Analysts are already comparing it to the path-breaking bilateral military framework agreement signed in 2005.
Indian diplomats say the anti-terror document has been in the works for the past two years and will “make public” what has already been happening between the two countries.
Singh has eschewed cultural and public diplomatic events, say US sources, and focussed on policy meets. He will not only meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but also Pentagon chief Bob Gates, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.
Obama, known to appreciate Singh’s sober style, is honouring him with the first state banquet of his administration.
A second big ticket item will be the announcement of an Indo-US green energy research and development centre.
The idea, say sources, will be to generate innovation which can be deployed to make the private sector more environmentally friendly.
Though the seed money will come from New Delhi and Washington, the expectation is that the centre will attract private sector funding. They will announce a major expansion, in the $ 5-10 million range, of the Fulbright-Nehru programme with an emphasis on science and technology scholarships.
The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta will set up its first South Asian detection centre in India. There will also be an attempt to further open the doors for Indian access to dual-use technology.
What is missing so far, say sources, are the final bits of the civilian nuclear cooperation deal. The two sides are continuing talks for the enrichment and reprocessing deal but it is unclear if it will be ready in time. In any case, the Obama administration see this as a Bush legacy and will probably underplay it no matter whether it is completed in November or will wait until Obama makes a return visit next year.