India to convey US its N-deal concerns
Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon is expected to convey New Delhi's concerns over "certain elements" in the law passed by US Congress on the civil nuclear deal with it during a visit starting on Tuesday.
Menon, who is visiting Washington for a High Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG) meeting on February 22-23, is likely to bring India's draft proposals to be incorporated in the bilateral 123 Agreement that is under negotiation to implement the deal.
Making his first visit to Washington after taking over as foreign secretary in October, he is expected to follow up on the discussions prime minister's special envoy on nuclear issue Shyam Saran had in Washington last month with US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns on the way forward on the 123 Agreement.
New Delhi is not ready to accept any legally binding provision on future nuclear testing in the 123 Agreement. Nor is it happy with provisions relating to conditional access to reprocessing technology, end use verification of reprocessed fuel and the attempt to cap India's strategic nuclear programme.
Besides discussions with Burns on Wednesday, Menon will meet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other officials in the departments of state, commerce, agriculture, energy, defence and the National Security Council.
An early conclusion of an agreement will provide broad contours for India to negotiate a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
On February 22, Menon and Burns will participate in "a conversation" on 'The US, India and the World' at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a leading Washington think tank.
The two officials will share their perspectives on how India and the US view their interests in the emerging international system and how both countries are working towards the construction of global partnerships in a variety of functional and regional areas, including India's immediate and extended neighbourhoods.
Menon, who will co-chair the fifth meeting of the Indo-US High Technology Cooperation Group with Deputy Secretary of Commerce David Sampson on February 22-23, is expected to press for removal of some extant sanctions on trade in some high technology items between India and the US.
US Commerce Secretary Carlos M Gutierrez, just back from an India visit to explore opportunities to further invigorate commercial relations between the two countries, will brief HTCG on his India mission and discuss emerging avenues of trade and economic cooperation.
In a daylong business-to-business interactive session, HTCG will address critical issues affecting high technology cooperation in these areas of digital economy: IT & telecommunications; pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, and IPR; and defence & strategic cooperation.
Gutierrez's February 13-14 India visit followed last November's largest US government business development mission in history led by US Under Secretary for International Trade Frank Lavin. The mission included 250 American business representatives and state government officials who explored export opportunities to India.
The US is India's largest trading partner, and through November 2006 that partnership was worth $29 billion in two-way trade. US exports to India increased 25 per cent from January-November 2005 through January-November 2006, and investment is up 10 per cent.
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