India urges US to ease tech sanctions
New Delhi: In the run-up to US President Barack Obama`s visit here in November, India Wednesday pressed the US for easing trade in dual-use technologies and conveyed its unease over the shifting power games in Afghanistan.
National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon Wednesday met his US counterpart James Jones and held wide-ranging discussions with a view to firming up key deliverables during Obama`s presidential visit later this year.
Jones also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and conveyed Obama`s greetings to the Prime Minister and the resolve of the administration to take India-US relations to new heights, said reliable sources.
Menon and Jones also discussed a host of regional issues, including the shifting power equations in Afghanistan and the US sanctions against Tehran which New Delhi feels can hurt its energy security.
Menon is understood to have pointed out that many Indian private and public sector entities continue to face technology sanctions even two years after India and the US signed a landmark nuclear deal in October 2008.
The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are among Indian entities that continue to suffer US technology sanctions.
Jones assured that the US was looking at removing these sanctions, but has to find ways of doing so within the framework of US domestic laws, which contain stringent criteria governing the transfer of such technologies to other countries.
There could be some tangible movement in this direction ahead of Obama`s visit, sources said.
Menon and Jones also took stock of steps required to implement the civilian nuclear deal. Jones sought an update on the passage of the civil nuclear liability bill, which makes the operator of an atomic plant exclusively liable in the event of a nuclear accident.
The bill, currently pending before a parliamentary committee, is a prerequisite before US nuclear firms can begin business with India. The proposed legislation has faced flak from leading opposition parties for allegedly exempting foreign suppliers from any compensation claims in case of an atomic accident.
Jones arrived in India Tuesday night on a two-day visit to lay the groundwork for Obama`s visit, which was announced at the India-US strategic dialogue in Washington last month.
Jones is likely meet Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Defence Minister A.K. Antony Thursday before he flies out of Delhi in the afternoon.
The two top security officials also discussed the fluid situation in Afghanistan against the backdrop of reports of Pakistan influencing a power-sharing deal with Taliban elements who are inimical to India`s interests.
Ahead of the July 20 Kabul conference, Jones briefed Menon on the US` strategy and lauded India`s multi-faceted humanitarian reconstruction work in the violence-torn country, said the sources.
Menon conveyed India`s apprehensions about any move to accommodate hardcore Taliban extremists. India continues to get intelligence reports about the plan of terrorists to target its assets and interests in Afghanistan.
On Iran, the two sides did not see eye to eye, with India conveying its objections to unilateral US sanctions, which can impact India`s energy security.
Last week, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, without naming the US, pointed out that the "extra-territorial nature of certain unilateral sanctions" can have "a direct and adverse impact" on India`s energy security and advocated dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff.
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