Despite failure of talks, India seeks closer engagement with US

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New Delhi, Aug 3 (UNI) Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath has said India seeks a closer engagement with the United States, notwithstanding its stiff role relating to India's proposals at the mini-ministerial WTO talks at Geneva.

He said the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal will result in a more proximate relation with the US and expressed the hope that the Doha round of talks will recommence soon.

''It is not that the talks have collapsed like a pack of cards.

I sincerely hope that the talks will resume in two to three months from now. I think the US needs to do some introspection on what happened in Geneva. It would not be a long pause,'' Mr Nath said addressing a meeting organised on the subject by FICCI.

The Minister gave virtually a step-by-step account to explain the reasons which led to the deadlock at the Ministerial and the spirit of accomodation adopted by India on the issues concerned.

He also made it abundantly clear that the US adopted a highly stubborn attitude on many of the issues at the negotiating table.

At one point, he said, the draft prepared by the European Union on adopting safeguard mechanisms, the main bone of contention, was rejected forthwith by the US Delegation.

He said India was willing to accept the mechanism worked out by Australia and the European Union, which was a neutral party.

But the US did not consider worth its while to accept it.

The Minister said India was voicing the concern of developing countries which rallied around it. Often, India was percieved to be doing its own bid but this was not the case.

India being invited at the G-7 and also being part of G-33 and G-90 had to take on the load of developing countries.

Brazil, which is an aggressive exporter of agricultural products, while agreeing in-principle with the safeguard mechanisms did not vigorously support India's case at the talks.

To a question as to whether the collapse of the multilateral talks would lead to an era of bilateralism and regional groupings, Mr Nath gave a categorical affirmation that this would not be true in the case of India.

He, however, said bilateralism and regional formations were not opposed to a multilateral trading system. They only help build up multilateralism.

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