India-US N-deal to help lift tech restrictions: Pranab

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New York, Oct 1: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said the India-US Civil Nuclear deal would lead to the lifting of technology restrictions and the opening up of cooperation in this field with several countries.

''If India is to realise its economic potential, it will ... need alternative sources of clean energy. Foremost among them is nuclear energy,'' he told the Council on Foreign Relations here today.

The minister, who spoke on 'India's Foreign Policy and Future India-US Relations,' said India and the US today had an objective convergence in several areas: in values and interests, in areas ranging from economic development to the dangers of proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), and in terrorism.

''There is much that India and the USA need to do individually and together. Each of us brings to the relationship complementary skills and attributes,'' he said.

The minister said the challenges confronting India today also offered opportunities for economic partnership between the two countries in areas such as infrastructure, energy, telecommunications and manufacturing.

''This relationship answers to the aspirations and interests of the people of both countries. The links between our two countries are multi-layered,'' he said.

He said the large and vibrant Indian-American community constituted a vitally important bridge closely connecting the people of the two countries.

''Parallels of such significant and broad-based popular stake holding in bilateral relations are rare,'' he said.

The minister said the India-US relationship was based on mutual benefit.

''India's rapid economic growth is propelled not primarily by exports, but much more by growing domestic consumer demand and increasing investments. Our growth will thus not be at the cost of other countries. It will, in fact, be a major stabilizing force in the global economy,'' he said.

Mr Mukherjee said this was reflected in recent trends in India-US trade, where US exports to India were growing much faster than US imports from India.

Similarly, investments are now flowing in both directions, he said.

''In terms of the global economy, India and the United States have shared concerns on critical issues, such as energy security.

Both our countries are, for instance, interested in the stabilization of oil and gas prices at reasonable levels and in reduced dependence on fossil fuels,'' he said.

Mr Mukherjee said in advanced areas like nuclear energy and space exploration, India had a sound indigenous base that enabled it to not only absort high technology but also to collaborate with the US in new fields.

''India believes that advanced technologies must be used and managed with care and a sense of responsibility. Our systems of protecting advanced technology show an increasingly apparent convergence,'' he said.

''In sum, our relationship has never been better than it is today. I am confident about its future,'' Mr Mukherjee said.

The minister stressed that India had, through its achievements in the sixty years since independence, also decisively demonstrated that democracy and development were not only compatible but also necessary for ensuring sustainability.

He spoke about the impressive growth rates achieved by the Indian economy in recent years and said the country needed to grow at eight to ten per cent every year until 2020 if it were to abolish mass poverty.

Mr Mukherjee dwelt at length on India's demographic trends and its human resource base.

He said India needed a stable, peaceful, democratic and prosperous periphery for its own and the region's future.

''If India is to grow rapidly and transform herself, we need a supportive and peaceful regional environment. This is why the present situation in Myanmar concerns us deeply. We urge a broad-based and inclusive process of national reconciliation and peaceful reform to lead Myanmar's political evolution. Bloodshed in this situation is unacceptable. India will work with like - minded countries to make a peaceful outcome possible in Myanmar,'' he said.

Mr Mukherjee said India would continue to work with its neighbours to achieve its goal of a stable and peaceful periphery.

He also spoke at length about the efforts made by India to bolster cooperation in the region through regional arrangements such as SAARC and BIMSTEC, and its dialogue with ASEAN.

He said India was also consistently taking initiatives to improve relations with Pakistan, which have borne some fruit in the last years but which need to be pursued to their logical conclusion through dialogue in an atmosphere free of violence.

Mr Mukherjee also said India was pursuing high-level dialogue with major powers through the India, China and Ruafrcia group. He said it was also developing closer linkages with major powers such as the US, Japan, the European Union and Russia.

''Today, India enjoys strategic partnerships of one kind oranother with as many as eleven countries and the EU. Our strategic partnership with the US has strengthened our relationship bilaterally, in the region and in the world. It is also clear that the development of closer relations between India and any one strategic partner will not be at the expense of relations with any third country,'' he said.

According to him, the new challenges emerging in the world, including terrorism and organised crime, required much closer international cooperation than before.


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