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India A Singularly Important Foreign Priority US

U.S. Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Mar 23, 2006
Washington's landmark nuclear agreement with India reflects the flourishing US economic and political relationship with New Delhi, a senior US official said Wednesday. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns told reporters that India now occupies a "singularly important" place in US foreign policy.

"The relationship between India and the United States is singularly important for our society and for the future of American foreign policy," he said.

"We think, frankly, that one of the most important strategic initiatives of the United States in the last few years has been the opening to India," Burns said.

He hailed "the tremendous American private investment in India, particularly in the advanced technology sector (and) the tremendous expansion of trade which has benefited both of our countries," said Burns, who hailed "a multiplicity of private sector ties."

"We've also seen a real flourishing of ties between American citizens and Indian citizens," the US diplomat said. "There are 85,000 Indians studying in the United States -- that's the largest group of foreign students."

"That private sector expansion has been coupled with the emergence of a key -- now global -- partnership between the Indian and American government, which we think is going to be critical for for stability in Asia ... in South Asia, as well as in the greater Middle East, as we look to the future," Burns said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

related report

US Dispatches Senior Officials To Vienna To Press Case For India Nuclear Deal
Washington (AFP) Mar 23 - Washington has dispatched two senior US officials to Vienna to sell its controversial nuclear deal with India to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a key international consultative group on controlling nuclear energy, officials said Wednesday.

Richard Boucher, US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, and Stephen Rademaker, Assistant Secretary of State for International, Security and Nonproliferation, were due to arrive in Vienna on Thursday to brief members of the 44-nation group on Washington's plan to provide key US nuclear technology to India.

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns told reporters in Washington Wednesday that the United States was hopeful about the outcome of the briefings to the group, also known as the NSG.

"Suffice it to say that when you have leading members of the NSG -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Australia -- all speaking out in favor of this arrangement, I think that's a fairly compelling group of countries, Burns said.

"We do have to reach consensus with the Nuclear Suppliers Group," he continued, "and my very strong sense is that what we're going to hear tomorrow is alot of countries are going to wait and see if the United States government is able to convince the US Congress to pass the necessary legislation to allow this deal to go forward," Burns said.

"Once that happens, then I think sequentially the Nuclear Suppliers Group will then want to take action on its own" to endorse the deal, he said.

"I think that there'll be a very strong tide of support in the NSG in favor of this, but that's probably a few months away."

The US-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement, sealed on March 3 by US President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a visit by the US leader to New Delhi, would give energy-starved India access to long-denied civilian nuclear technology in return for placing a majority of its nuclear reactors under international inspection.

The agreement, which also places 14 of India's 22 nuclear power reactors under international safeguards, was the cornerstone of Bush's three-day trip to India earlier this month.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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