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US Official Holds Talks On Nuclear Deal With India

The deal, agreed between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush in July, would give India access to technology normally reserved for nations that have signed the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

New Delhi (AFP) Oct 21, 2005
A senior US State Department official met Friday with India's foreign secretary for talks on a nuclear deal between the two nations that breaks precedent on decades of non-proliferation policy.

US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns held talks with Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran to discuss the accord, which requires New Delhi to separate civilian and military nuclear programs in exchange for advanced civilian nuclear technology.

The deal, agreed between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush in July, would give India access to technology normally reserved for nations that have signed the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

India would place its civilian nuclear reactors under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections while Washington would lobby the 44-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group to allow civilian nuclear sales to India.

The group normally restricts cooperation with countries, like India, that are not NPT members. India carried out nuclear weapon tests in May 1998, which were matched by rival Pakistan, leading to economic sanctions by the United States on both countries which were waived in 2001 in return for support in the "war on terrorism".

"I think by the time that President Bush visits New Delhi in early 2006, we will see that both of our countries would have met our commitment in this landmark agreement," Burns said in New York before leaving.

He was instrumental in developing the partnership agreement, including civil nuclear energy cooperation, which he called the "high-water mark" of relations with India since its founding in 1947.

The ruling Congress party-led government last month was accused by opposition political parties of caving in to US pressure in supporting an IAEA resolution that opens the door to reporting Iran to the UN Security Council for violating international nuclear safeguards.

The move came after US legislators warned that the nuclear deal, which must be approved by the US Congress, could be jeopardized if India refused to back firm action against Iran, with which New Delhi has valuable energy ties.

Burns said the vote was "a very important sign that India is a responsible nuclear power."

"Since the Indian government's very decisive and clear vote in the IAEA, that issue has disappeared in the US Congress and we now find substantial support in Congress for the agreement reached in July," he said.

Iran has signed the NPT.

However, an analyst said that if the United States put pressure on India to refer the Iran nuclear issue to the UN Security Council, there could be renewed domestic opposition.

"If there is greater (US) pressure (on India) to come out clearer and more loudly, they perhaps have to be told any more attempts will not be favored in the proper light in the domestic system," said retired air commodore Prashant Dikshit, deputy director of the New Delhi-based Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.

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Analysis: Seoul Seeks Smaller U.S. Role
Seoul (UPI) Oct 21, 2005
South Korea failed to win an immediate promise from the United States on Friday to transfer its wartime operational control of South Korean troops back to Seoul.

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