Bush visit to seek Nuke facilities separation list | india | Hindustan Times
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Bush visit to seek Nuke facilities separation list

The White House is hoping to use Bush's visit as a 'forcing function' for New Delhi to cough up a nuclear facilities separation list.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2006 14:53 IST

The White House is hoping to use President George W Bush's visit to India next week as a "forcing function" for New Delhi to cough up a civil and military nuclear facilities separation list, but, were that to fail, Washington will continue to negotiate, said a top official.

At a White House press briefing, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said on Friday that India had submitted a list of civilian and military nuclear facilities a week ago and that Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns had further discussed it in New Delhi and is bringing back a tentative list to be examined here before President Bush leaves March 1.

"... (India) (is) having to make the kind of separation that we've made and other countries have made," Hadley said, adding that it posed a significant challenge for India.

"And if -- again, we're trying to see if we can use the visit as a forcing function. If we can, great. If not, we'll continue to work on it after the visit's over," he said.

Hadley said that in this latest round of talks in New Delhi, the Indian side provided a document about a week ago.

Washington made counter-proposals, leading to yet another visit by Burns to India that ended on Friday.

"He (Burns) is now coming back to Washington to report on where we are on those discussions. We're making progress, but we're not yet there," Hadley said.

The negotiations would continue, "by phone, document and the like, probably up through the president's -- up to the president's visit," he said.

"We would obviously like, and the Indians would like, to use the occasion of this visit to reach agreement on this separation agreement, so-called. We think that would be a good thing," said Hadley.

"... but it's important to have a good agreement that works for the Indians, works for the United States, it will be acceptable to our Congress and to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and that's our objective. We'd like to get it before the trip. If we can, great. If we can't, we'll continue to negotiate it after the trip."

The sticking points, Hadley indicated, were "... getting some clarification from the Indian side about what's in the civil side and what's on the military side, not only in terms of what exists now at this time but what are going to be the ground rules going forward."

He reiterated the complex and technical aspects of the agreement and the challenge it posed for the Indian side.

Hadley laid out the details of the Bush visit, saying the president would begin with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Gandhi memorial in New Delhi.

Apart from meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he will meet with members of the US-India Chief Executive Officers Forum or CEO Forum, launched July 18 last year at the White House.

The CEOs will share with the two leaders their ideas on how to further expand trade and investment between the US and India.

The president will then participate in a joint press conference with the prime minister, they will have lunch, and later the president and Mrs. Bush will attend a state dinner hosted by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. He will then visit the US embassy in New Delhi.

Bush is also scheduled to meet a diverse group of religious leaders to discuss religious freedom. He will also meet the opposition party leader L.K Advani as well as Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Congress party.

Before travelling to Pakistan on March 3, the president will participate in an agricultural event, an area where India and the US have cooperated off and on for some 40 years, and he will meet with young Indian entrepreneurs and deliver an address.

In Pakistan, the president will meet with President Pervez Musharraf to discuss the ongoing anti-terrorist war and the war on terror.

"The US relationship with Pakistan goes beyond security interests and issues," Hadley said. Bush will discuss Pakistan's moves toward democracy as well as how Washington can expand mutually beneficial economic ties to support freedom and prosperity in Pakistan.

"The leaders will also be discussing how we can cooperate to support Pakistan's important role in encouraging greater economic integration in South and Central Asia," Hadley said.

President Bush will also participate in a meeting on the earthquake reconstruction efforts in which the US and its military participated. And the two leaders will participate in a joint media meet.

Later, the president and Mrs. Bush will attend a state dinner hosted by President Musharraf. Bush will participate in a round table discussion with leaders in Pakistan's public and private sectors, apart from meeting the US Embassy employees there.