India,US to work to deny safe havens to terrorists (Evening Lead)

November 8th, 2010 - 7:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) India and the United States Monday pledged to work together to deny terrorists “safe havens” in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region as Washington agreed to ease high-tech exports and backed a bigger role for New Delhi in global affairs.

The two nations also resolved to deepen counter-terror cooperation and announced a slew of initiatives in areas ranging from clean energy to health in what both President Barack obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called a “defining partnership of the 21st century”.

After according a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the imposing British era presidential mansion, Manmohan Singh held wide-ranging talks with Obama that focused on adding more economic substance and strategic heft to the burgeoning relationship between the world’s two largest democracies.

The talks were summed up by Obama later at a press conference at Hyderabad House where he said that “ours is not ordinary relationship” and such was the depth and sweep of bilateral cooperation that “I cannot remember an occassion when
we have agreed to so many new partnership across so many areas as we have
done during my visit”.

Before the press conference, the two leaders held talks in a restricted format for at least an hour before the delegation-level talks that lasted around 80-90 minutes. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao were present during restricted talks.

The issues included: expansion of trade and investment, specially high-tech trade, concerns over outsourcing and deepening of counter-terror cooperation and defence issues. Among global and regional discussed were the UN reforms, non-proliferation, climate change, global economic architecture, Indian Ocean security, East Asia and issues relating to terrorism emanating from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In a key step that brings India a step closer to ending technology denial regimes targeted against it since the 1998 nuclear tests, Obama announced at a joint press conference the US decision to relax its export controls of high-tech equipment to India, particularly in the defence and scientific areas.

He also agreed to push New Delhi’s membership in some multilateral institutions that control global trade in nuclear and dual use technologies. “The US will remove Indian organizations from the so-called Entities List” he said, adding that the two sides will implement their nuclear deal.

The announcement was music to the ears of Manmohan Singh, who launched the initiative to forge a landmark nuclear deal in 2005 with the larger promise of ending nuclear discrimination against India and boosting its civil nuclear energy to meet its power shortfall.

“We welcome the decision by the United States to lift controls on export of high technology items and technologies to India, and support India’s membership in multilateral export control regimes such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group”" said a beaming Manmohan Singh.

“This is a manifestation of the growing trust and confidence in each other. We have agreed on steps to expand our cooperation in the space, civil nuclear, defence and other high-end sector,” he said.

According to official sources, the three Indian entities that have been removed from the US export black list include the Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO), Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Bharat Dynamics Limited.

The US has decided to support India for full membership of the top four nuclear clubs, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australian Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

Describing India as “a key actor on the global stage,” Obama advocated a bigger role for India in East Asia, a region which has lately seen a bout of Chinese assertiveness and which Beijing sees as its sphere of influence.

Obama also lauded India’s involvement in reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.

The two sides decided to deepen counter-terror cooperation and announced a new dialogue between the department of homeland security and India’s home ministry officials. They agreed to combat terrorist networks in the region and shared notes on dealing with extremism emanating from the volatile Pakistan-Afghanistan region, said the sources.

With Obama by his side, Manmohan Singh underlined his commitment to pursuing peace with Pakistan but made it clear that as long as “the terror machine was active against New Delhi it will be difficult to keep on talking”. Obama, on his part, ruled out US mediation but encouraged the two countries to resolve their tensions by themselves.

“You can’t simultaneously talk and have at the same time terror machinery active as ever before,” Manmohan Singh said.

The two announced a slew of initiatives in areas of clean energy, health and agriculture that included the setting up of a Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Centre in New Delhi, the establishment of a Global Disease Detection Centre in India and an agreement for cooperation in weather and crop forecasting. The two sides also decided to hold a Higher Education Summit next year

“In my discussions with the president, we have decided to accelerate the deepening of our ties and to work as equal partners in a strategic relationship that will positively and decisively influence world peace, stability and progres”,” said Manmohan Singh.

Obama, who is on his maiden visit to India, evocatively described the relationship between India and India and the US as indispensable to addressing key challenges of the 21st century.

“The relations between India and the US are stronger, deeper and broader than ever,” he said” “I am confident that India’s influence in world affairs will continue to rise,”

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