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U.S. assures India it will proceed with nuclear deal
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Washington: The new Obama administration on Wednesday assured India that it will proceed with the landmark India-U.S. nuclear deal, signed during George W. Bush’s tenure, and said the two countries needed to ramp up cooperation in counter-terrorism and global issues such as climate change. Senior State Department officials gave the assurance to Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, who is on a four-day official visit.

Mr. Menon on Monday met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and discussed the nuclear deal, counter-terrorism cooperation, bilateral issues, Sri Lankan conflict and bringing the situation under control in war-torn Afghanistan. During his talks with Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Nicolas Burns on Wednesday, Mr. Menon discussed the landmark civil nuclear deal and other bilateral issues.

Ms. Clinton told Mr. Menon that the two countries needed to ramp up their cooperation in bilateral and global issues. “The India-U.S. civilian nuclear deal, its current status and the way forward too were discussed during the meeting,” State Department Acting Spokesman Robert Wood told reporters. “I think there was a bit of a discussion on the additional protocol that was just worked out with the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency],” Mr. Wood said.

The deal, initiated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the then U.S. President George W. Bush in 2005, was signed in October 2008 after it was approved by the Congress. President Barack Obama last year indicated that his administration will take forward the deal.

“It was a very, very good meeting – very warm meeting,” Mr. Wood said referring to the first high-level meeting between the two countries. The Mumbai terror attack also figured during Mr. Menon’s talks with Ms. Clinton, Mr. Burns and National Security Adviser General James Jones. “I think the way they discussed the issue was the fact that we’ve got to do what we can to try to prevent these types of attacks from happening again.”

“I think you can view it in the overall level of cooperation that both the United Sates and India are involved in,” Wood said. The spokesman said there were a number of issues where the U.S. and India could work together. Ms. Clinton and Mr. Menon also talked a bit about Afghanistan and what needed to be done. “Secretary was very interested in hearing Foreign Secretary Menon’s views on this subject as well as a host of others,” he said.

On Afghanistan, Ms. Clinton listened to the Indian viewpoint and did not ask India to do something specific. “It wasn’t so much that we were asking India to do anything specifically. But the Secretary wanted to hear the Foreign Secretary’s views on the best way forward in Afghanistan, from the Indian point of view. That was, in essence, the basis of the discussion,” Mr. Wood said.

On climate change, Ms. Clinton and Mr. Menon talked in general about the importance of working together to try to deal with the issue of climate change and global warming, said Mr. Wood, who was present during the meeting. Mr. Menon met key Congressional leaders Jim McDermott, co-chair of the India caucus at the Congress; Howard L. Berman, Chairman of House Committee on Foreign Affairs; and Senator Richard Lugar. – PTI

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