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Burns to visit if India has N-separation plan

The visit by Burns would happen if something significant could be achieved before Bush visited India in March.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 12:20 IST
Ela Dutt (IANS)
Ela Dutt (IANS)

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns will visit India next week only if New Delhi has a "separation plan" for its civil and military nuclear facilities.

The separation plan is enjoined in the July 18 agreement between President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The visit by Burns would happen if something significant could be achieved before Bush visited India in March, Richard Boucher told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Burns, he said, was "willing to have a new round next week if we think we have a basis for concluding... the separation plan."

"If confirmed, I will work closely with other US agencies to bring to fruition the initiatives Bush and Singh agreed to in Washington last July," said Boucher.

He said while the July 18 agreement was wide-ranging, "opening new areas to economic cooperation and concluding a civilian nuclear partnership are two of the most important areas at this moment".

Beyond that, Boucher said, "we need to look at all the areas where our international interests intersect with those of India."

"Some areas that spring to mind are agriculture, democracy building, disaster relief, education, and science and technology," added Boucher.

"The success of US policy in South and Central Asia is critically important to our national interests," said Boucher.

South and Central Asia is home to expanding populations and rising economies that are beginning to shift the balance of global power, Boucher maintained.

"And, one of the most obvious manifestations of this is the emergence of India on the world stage," with whom the Bush administration has "embarked upon building a global strategic partnership..."

President Bush will be travelling to India in the coming weeks "... to continue a strong, forward-looking relationship with this rising global power," Boucher emphasised.

And while Washington is setting upon building a strategic relationship with India, "we also continue America's long friendship with Pakistan".

A stable and friendly relationship between India and Pakistan, he said, was essential for the region, and that the rapprochement ongoing was encouraging.

He reiterated praise for Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's decision to move towards a modern democracy.

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 12:03 IST