Obama visit: India for `robust strategic framework’ in ties

October 26th, 2010 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, Oct 26 (IANS) With progress on key issues, India hopes US President Barack Obama’s visit will put in place a “robust strategic framework” for a strong partnership bilaterally and on key global and regional issues.

Diplomatic sources said in the run-up to the visit that there has been progress in narrowing down differences on issues like US export controls, hiked US H1-B visa fee and India’s nuclear liability legislation and India expects some “concrete results”.

Taking note of US Undersecretary of State William Burns’ statement that US wanted to see India as a “partner and not a target”, sources said talks were on for India specific easing of high-tech export controls, widely seen as a potential key deliverable during Obama’s visit.

Besides easing of curbs on export of dual-use high tech items, which currently target India on ten of 16 counts, India is also hoping for removal of institutions like the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from the banned entities list.

On the nuclear liability issue, while ruling out an amendment in the Indian laws, sources said talks were on between operators, suppliers and officials to find a way forward to realise the “full potential” of the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal.

While declining to spell out contemplated steps that would ease US suppliers concerns, sources pointed out that in 2008 itself India had signalled willingness to sign the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) on nuclear damages, a global treaty that gives India access to global funds in case of a nuclear accident.

Besides discussions on nuclear cooperation and US export control, the “rich agenda” will cover how to fulfil promises held out in areas like agriculture, health and clean energy, developments in the region and reforms in the architecture of global governance and international finance.

While Obama may not come out with an outright endorsement of India’s case for permanent membership of the UN Security Council, sources noted an advance in the US attitude towards UN reforms.

Now the US seems to be willing for an expansion of the influential UN decision making body and wants a consensus to emerge, sources said. The US also wants the expansion to be country specific rather than geographic.

Diplomats noted that Obama has described India-US relationship as one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century and the new US national security strategy identifies India-US relations as one of three key global relationships for the US along with China and Russia.

With Obama choosing to start his Nov 6-9 visit with an address to a major business conference in India’s financial capital of Mumbai, a key focus area would be trade, which after a dip during the global economic crisis, has seen a rebound.

Between January and August, bilateral trade touched $32.9 billion steadily moving towards a projected over $50 billion total this year.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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