US presses India for nuclear level playing field

December 13th, 2011 - 5:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) Stressing on the implementation of the nuclear deal, the US Tuesday said Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has conveyed to India the need for “a level playing field” for foreign and domestic companies in the Indian nuclear market.

“The deputy secretary stressed, in particular, the importance of continuing the implementation of the US-India civil-nuclear deal and leveling the playing field for foreign and domestic companies wishing to compete in India’s civil-nuclear market,” the US embassy said in a statement a day after Burns held wide-ranging talks here.

In his meetings, the deputy secretary and his Indian interlocutors reaffirmed the importance of the US-India partnership, the embassy said.

The two sides welcomed the growth in bilateral trade and expressed their support for continued efforts to deepen defense and economic cooperation, which remain essential to
the strategic partnership, the embassy said.

The landmark atomic deal the two countries sealed in 2008 and issues relating to India’s civil nuclear liabilities regime figured prominently in the discussions Burns had with his Indian interlocutors Monday.

He held wide-ranging talks with Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon. He also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Krishna conveyed to Burns that he looked forward to visiting Washington for the next round of the US-India Strategic Dialogue next year.

After the talks, Burns underlined that the US 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.

“We stressed our shared interest in expanding economic cooperation between our two countries, our shared commitment to the full implementation of the civil nuclear agreement, our shared stake in expanding our defense ties,” he told reporters Monday.

American nuclear companies are concerned that the Indian civil nuclear liability law imposes an onerous 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.

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