India, US iron out nuke liability issue

The US underlined that it shared India`s commitment to "full implementation" of the civil nuclear agreement.

Last Updated: Dec 13, 2011, 00:42 AM IST

New Delhi: The US Monday underlined that it shared India`s commitment to "full implementation" of the civil nuclear agreement as both countries discussed ways to resolve differences on the nuclear liability law and also discussed the volatile situation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns Monday held talks with National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai. He also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.

Burns underlined the "shared stakes" of India and the US in economic and defence areas and said that one cannot expect "dramatic breakthroughs" in the relationship everyday.

He discussed an entire gamut of bilateral relations with Indian officials, including on civil nuclear cooperation and the situation in the Af-Pak region and Middle East.

"We had very productive discussions on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues. We stressed our shared interest in expanding our economic cooperation between our two countries (and) our shared commitment to the full implementation of the civil nuclear agreement," Burns said.
Burns` visit takes place days after the Indian government deferred a decision on allowing FDI in multi-brand retail.

Dismissing criticism that the US had not provided adequate information on Pakistan-American terror suspect David Headley, Burns said India and the US have "cooperated closely" on terrorism and on the Headley issue.

He said that the two countries have put very hard and effective work not only in intelligence sharing but also in counter-terrorism cooperation.

Burns underlined that the US understands the "significance" of the Headley case and that the US is determined to continue to work with our "Indian partners not only on that case but as I said shared interest in fighting terrorism around the world".

"The relation between India and the US matters not only to the two countries but to the entire international community," he said.
"I think everyday we can continue with our hard, steady work on building and strengthening the relationship that matters greatly to our two governments and our people," he said.

American nuclear companies are concerned that the Indian civil nuclear liability law imposes a heavy burden in case of an accident and have said many a time that the liability regime continues to be a deterrent to start nuclear business with New Delhi.

However, India has made it clear that it will work within the framework of its domestic laws.

This point was conveyed when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama met on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Bali last month.

The guidelines relating to the nuclear liability law were notified by the government last month.

During the talks with Obama, Manmohan Singh had made it clear that India will work within the `four corners` of its domestic laws, indicating that it will not give in to any pressure from outside.

Manmohan Singh had also assured Obama that India will also ratify the Supplementary Convention (for nuclear damage).

IANS