N-liability within framework of law: PM tells Obama

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama met for the first time in over a year in Indonesia on Friday.

Nusa Dua: Declaring that there were "no irritants whatsoever" in their relationship, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met US President Barack Obama here on Friday but clarified that specific grievances on the civil nuclear liability law could only be addressed within "four corners of the law of the land".

"I explained to him that we have a law in place and rules have been formulated... These will lie in parliament for 30 days. Therefore we have gone some way to respond to concerns of American companies and within the four corners of the law of the land, we are willing to address any specific grievances," Manmohan Singh said after the delegation level talks that lasted for over an hour.

"I also told him (Obama) that we`ll ratify the Supplementary Convention (for nuclear damage)... that`s where the matter stands," Manmohan Singh said a day after New Delhi quietly notified the implementation rules for the civil nuclear liability law that has come under fire for alleged dilution in suppliers` liability.
The issue has come into sharper focus in a post-Fukushima world that has brought to the fore the dangers of nuclear radiation and the need to protect citizens.

Obama and Manmohan Singh, who met at Grand Hyatt hotel where the former is staying, made brief opening remarks before a section of the media before starting the delegation level talks. The talks took place on the sidelines of the India-ASEAN summit and the East Asia Summit.

"Bonds between our countries are not just at the leadership level but also the personal level," Obama, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials by his side, told Manmohan Singh.

Obama, who began by remembering his "extraordinary visit" to India "around the same time last year" and referring to Manmohan Singh as his "dear friend", said there was an "outstanding opportunity" to address a range of issues at the bilateral and multilateral levels.

"Last year around this time, I embarked on what was an extraordinary trip to India, in which we continued to strengthen the bonds, both commercial, on the security side, and strategic between the world`s two largest democracies.

"And since that time, we`ve continued to make progress on a wide range of issues. The bonds between our countries are not just at the leadership level, but they`re, obviously, at the person-to-person level, given the extraordinary contributions of Indian Americans to our culture, our politics and our economy."

"This will be an outstanding opportunity for us to continue to explore how we can work together, not only on bilateral issues but also in multilateral fora, like the East Asia Summit, which we believe can be the premier arena for us to be able to work together on a wide range of issues, such as maritime security or non-proliferation, as well as expanding the kind of cooperation on disaster relief and humanitarian aid that`s so important."

The Indian leader, who put forward his view on the civil nuclear liability issue later, responded in his opening remarks by saying that there "were no irritants whatsoever" in the working relationship between the two countries extending across "multiplicity of areas".

Recalling Obama`s "historic visit" to India, Manmohan Singh said that "progress in every direction" had been made during the last year.

"And whether it is in humanitarian relief and disaster management, maritime security - all these are issues which unite us in a quest for a world free from the threat of war, want and exploitation."

The issues of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan came up during the discussions.

According to Secretary (East) Sanjay Singh, who briefed the media, there was an exchange of views in context of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran`s nuclear development. The prime minister, he said, reiterated that matters should be dealt with diplomatically.

Manmohan Singh, he said, also briefed Obama on his meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai as well as with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

IANS

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