ibnlive » India

Apr 30, 2007 at 05:34pm IST

Slow '123' talks put off US on India

New Delhi: There has been growing frustration in the US administration over the ongoing negotiation on the 123 Agreement between US and India which, they feel, was not moving at the pace it should be.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon arrived in Washington on Monday and he is scheduled to hold discussions with US Under Secretary Nicholas Burns on the issue.

But top officials at the US administration have expressed frustration over India's adamant position on the right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and on the need for perennial cooperation even if it were to conduct an atomic test.

ON THE JOB: Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon is in Washington for fresh talks with US Under Secretary Nicholas Burns.

The Indian side, however, claims that "some progress" was made during the discussions between senior officials from the two sides in the South African city of Cape Town 10 days back. "Some differences have remained and further parleys were required on them," they say.

Under the circumstances, the scheduled meeting on Tuesday between Menon and Burns holds significance. Menon and Burns will be joined in their discussions by senior officials of the two sides. In fact, Menon and top officials of the two sides will interact in the evening itself at a working dinner hosted by Burns.

India, while noting its declared policy of unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, has refused to accept it as legally binding by including a clause in the 123 Agreement.

New Delhi insists that civil nuclear cooperation should not be affected if India were to conduct a nuclear test and should be treated at par with other nuclear weapon countries in this regard.

While Washington may agree not to include the clause in the 123 Agreement, perenniality of the nuclear cooperation becomes an issue as the US law provides for snapping of atomic ties if any country were to conduct a test.

On Monday, top Indian official were to attend the Fifth Meeting of the India-United States Global Issues Forum at the State Department. The first meeting of the GIF took place in 2002.

At least four sets of issues are to be discussed between India and the United States at the Global Issues Forum with the first pertaining to Democracy Issues as it pertains to the Community of Democracies.

The other issues include how to move forward with the Mali Meeting scheduled for the end of the year, as well as the United Nations Democracy Fund and the evaluation of the number of grants that have already been made, and if a second trenche is required. The two sides will also be dealing with issues like science and technology, climate change and Avian Flu.

(With agency inputs)

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