Hillary to visit India, nuclear waiver tops agenda

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is Visiting India for a strategic dialogue on July 18.

New Delhi: Amid anxieties about new guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), India will press the US for the transfer of sensitive technologies to enable full civilian cooperation when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton comes here for a strategic dialogue July 18.

Hillary Clinton will be on a three-day visit for the second strategic dialogue, with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, said well-placed sources.

She last came here in July 2009 when India and the US launched their foreign minister-level strategic dialogue that seeks to map out the post-nuclear deal trajectory of India-US relations.

Accompanying her will be heavyweights in the Obama administration, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

This will be the first high-profile dialogue after President Barack Obama`s landmark visit to India in November 2010, when the US announced the easing of dual-use trade and declared support for India`s full membership of elite nuclear clubs like the NSG.

However, since then, a host of developments have complicated the relationship.

The most recent was the NSG`s new guidelines at its plenary meeting in the Netherlands last month that tightens export of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The US has assured that the new guidelines will not impact the clean waiver granted by the 46-nation nuclear cartel to India in September 2008. However, Krishna will seek a reassurance on this point when he meets Hillary Clinton, informed sources said.

The access to ENR technologies was a key part of the historic India-US civil nuclear agreement signed in 2008 to resume full civilian nuclear cooperation between the two nations.

The US is expected to share with India its outreach efforts to help India become a member of four multilateral nuclear export regimes, including the NSG, the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australia Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

The issue will also figure in the eighth meeting of the India-US High Technology Group Monday.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao will meet Eric I Hirschhorn, the Under Secretary of Industry and Security, and review the progress in the dismantling of barriers blocking high-tech exports to India.

Another issue that will figure prominently in the discussions will be the shared anxiety on the situation in militancy-ridden Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

The US is expected to share its assessment on the reported talks it had with a section of the Taliban as part of a reconciliation plan in Afghanistan in the wake of President Obama`s decision to pull out 10,000 forces this year and another 23,000 by the end of September in 2012.

India has been uneasy about the so-called reconciliation plan with the Taliban and is likely to voice its anxieties about Pakistan`s increased role in influencing the process.

Krishna is also expected to brief Hillary Clinton about the course of India`s revived dialogue process with Pakistan and New Delhi`s continuing apprehensions about the threat of terrorism that continues to emanate from that country.

The India-US strategic dialogue will be held a week before the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan hold talks here.


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