No 'big ticket' agreements on table during PM's state visit to US

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New Delhi, Nov 20 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh leaves for United States on invitation of President Barack Obama on Saturday, but chances are very slim that any big-ticket agreements will be signed.

Ironically, the landmark 123 Agreement that ended India's nuclear isolation, which was signed last year by Dr. Singh and then President George W Bush amid much fanfare, is still commercially non-operative.

"Complex" technical issues related to licensing, liability legislation and reprocessing are still under negotiation and India is not expecting it to conclude during the Prime Minister's visit.

"Implementation of this agreement is ongoing process. Liability law is getting highest attention, our delegation is working together closely to come to an understanding on reprocessing and licensing," said Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.

"I am optimistic we are well within our timeline, we are dealing with complex issues but are committed to the full implementation of the agreement this will take some time we are not expecting to conclude the process during Prime Minister's visit,' she added.

India, which has recently concluded End User Agreement with US, is hopeful that Dr. Singh's state visit to the US will raise relationship to higher level and give impetus to Indo-US defense cooperation. But conclusion of strategically important Logistical Support Agreement and CISMO has been ruled out.

The Indian Foreign Secretary said with finalisation of end user agreement it is our hope that our access to US defence technology will increase in future as far as other agreements are concerned we are continuing to discuss some pending issues relating to these agreements.

However, according to highly placed sources the two countries will be signing Memorandum of Understanding on counter terrorism, renewable energy, intellectual property rights and agriculture during the visit.

Briefing reporters on the agenda of Dr. Singh's visit to the US, Rao further said all issues of mutual and immediate interest would be taken up during the visit.

India will also be discussing issue of terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan, she said.

"The visit affords us to articulate concerns about the situation in Pakistan particularly with reference to the activities of terrorist groups operating from Pakistani soil."

"We have always emphasised the need for our friends our partners and the international community to understand the situation in Pakistan and the need for Pakistan to dismantle terror infrastructure," Rao said.

Dr. Singh will also be meeting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

The Prime Minister will also be holding meeting with Indo-US CEOs forum and business council. Dr Singh will also deliver a lecture at the US council on Foreign Relations, which will be attended by top US think tanks. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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