As the two chambers of the US Congress discuss the contours of a final India-US civil nuclear law, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns will holds talks with top officials in New Delhi on Thursday to address New Delhi's lingering concerns over some aspects of the enabling legislation.
Burns, who arrives in New Delhi on Wednesday night, will also discuss a bilateral 123 agreement which will determine terms of nuclear commerce between India and the US.
He will meet Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Shyam Saran, Prime Minister's Special Envoy on the India-US civil nuclear deal, and brief them on the ongoing efforts by the US House of Representatives and Senate to reconcile two versions of the bill before a final approval by the US Congress.
Burns will also try to iron out lingering differences between the two sides over some aspects of the nuclear legislation like annual reporting requirements by the US president certifying that India had not conducted nuclear tests. New Delhi has objected to this provision as it would rob the proposed US nuclear waiver of permanence by making it vulnerable to pressures of domestic politics.
India has repeatedly conveyed to the US that any condition which violates the July 18, 2005 understanding between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George Bush and the March 2, 2006 separation plan will not be acceptable to it.
In Washington, Senate Republican majority leader William H Frist has put the India deal among the top priorities of the lame-duck session on Tuesday. He also telephoned Manmohan Singh and assured him that the congressional action on the enabling legislation will be completed this week. The legislation will allow New Delhi to engage in nuclear commerce with Washington after three decades of technology denial.
"Prime Minister Singh stressed that there are a number of provisions in the House and Senate-passed bills that are problematic for the Indian government because they depart from the understanding reached with President Bush on this issue on July 18, 2005," Frist said in a detailed statement later.