Ahead of Obama visit, breakthrough eludes nuclear deal talks

Both India and the United States seem to be working overtime to conclude talks on the implementation of the civil nuclear deal ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to India later this week, but a breakthrough is not expected as yet.

Ahead of Obama visit, breakthrough eludes nuclear deal talks

New Delhi: Both India and the United States seem to be working overtime to conclude talks on the implementation of the civil nuclear deal ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to India later this week, but a breakthrough is not expected as yet.

As per reports, not much progress has been made during talks in London between the contact group set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Obama last September. Sources say several hurdles remain, key among them being the issue of “flagging rights” and liability clause.

US firms have always had concerns over the liability clause in the bilateral nuclear deal but America's stress on "flagging rights" has proved to be the latest hurdle in successfully implementing the deal.

By insisting on “flagging rights”, the US wants to ensure that it would be able to track all the nuclear material that it will supply to India.

As per US rules, Washington wants to keep a track of the nuclear material to be supplied to India. India, however, is adamant on not yielding the same dubbing it intrusive. New Delhi has argued that necessary IAEA safeguards are already in place.

India has also ruled out a change in the liability law that makes US companies liable in case of an accident at nuclear reactors.

"Even as we speak our negotiators are working together in a collaborative manner in London. It is the third time they are meeting in approximately 45 days, you can see the element of effort that is going into the nuclear issue," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin informed media.

Both the countries are seeking to make the successful conclusion of nuclear deal talks centrepiece of discussions due between PM Modi and President Obama in New Delhi on Sunday.

Obama is coming to India, for his second visit as US president, to attend the Republic Day Parade on January 26 as chief guest.

The historic Indo-US civil nuclear deal, reached during the UPA-I government led by then PM Manmohan Singh in 2008, has not been implemented so far due to several reasons, prime among them being the liability law.

And US insistence on “flagging rights” has only become the latest irritant.

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