Concerns on N-Liability addressed, says US

The US on Wednesday said its concerns with regard to India`s Nuclear Liability law have been addressed and negotiations have begun between the companies of the two countries for setting up atomic plants in India.

Last Updated: Dec 15, 2010, 22:26 PM IST

New Delhi: The US on Wednesday said its concerns
with regard to India`s Nuclear Liability law have been
addressed and negotiations have begun between the companies of
the two countries for setting up atomic plants in India.

Identifying civil nuclear cooperation with India as a
high priority area for the US, Assistant Secretary of State
for South Asia Robert Blake said it offers not only a "huge
commercial opportunity" but a chance to help India meets its
growing energy needs.
"I think, they have been," he said when asked whether
the concerns over India`s Civil Nuclear Liability Law had been
addressed.

Interacting with select journalists from India and some
other South Asian nations through tele-conferencing, Blake
said the concerns had been addressed by India`s assurance that
it would ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation
for Nuclear Damages in the coming year and provide a
level-playing field for American companies.

"Our companies have begun negotiations to help provide
reactors to meet India`s energy needs," the US official said.

American companies had been apprehensive about certain
aspects of the Liability Act, particularly those fixing
liability on suppliers, and had been wanting the concerns to
be addressed before commercial aspect of the civil nuclear
cooperation could be initiated.

Blake referred to the "landmark" visit of President
Barack Obama here last month and said the US was working to
forge closer relationship with India in various spheres
outlined during the "watershed" trip.
Identifying economic field as one of these, he said the
US wants to expand trade and investment. "A lot is happening
but we feel much more can be done in that area," the Assistant
Secretary of State said in the interaction with PTI besides a
journalist each from Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

He said the US was also keen to expand relations with
India in the global context, like trilateral cooperation in
Afghanistan, Africa, non-proliferation and climate change
besides at the UN Security Council where New Delhi will take
up non-permanent membership for two years from January next.

"India and the US will now work on initiatives beyond
the bilateral relations," Blake said, adding it will have
far-reaching implications at global levels.

"We are the two leading democracies, we are the two
leading market economies, we are the countries which want to
take responsibilities on global priorities and challenges," he
noted.

Blake was asked about the feeling in India that the US
has relaxed its pressure on Pakistan lately although the
latter had not done much to punish those behind the Mumbai
attacks.

Responding to it, he said it was important for the US
and Pakistan to address concerns over terrorism that exist in
that country and Pakistan needs to do more although it has
made some progress in Swat and Waziristan.

He quoted Obama as saying that "no country has suffered
more than Pakistan" on account of terrorism and that India
should work with the US and other countries to help stabilise
Pakistan.

A stable and prosperous Pakistan, Blake said, would be
in the interest of India as well as the world.

On Nepal, he voiced US` disappointment over the
continued political stalemate. He said the US suports efforts
for the success of the 2006 peace process and redrafting of
the Constitution which is to be completed by May next.

Making it clear that the term of the UN Mission in Nepal
would not be extended beyond January 15, Blake said the
parties needed to work themselves to reach an agreement on
power-sharing.

With regard to Sri Lanka, he said the US would like the
allegations of war crimes to be probed properly.

PTI