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India, US hold talks on nuclear issue, Bush visit

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Feb 23 (UNI) The United States today admitted there were still some differences with India on the ticklish issue of separation of civilian and military nuclear programmes but said both countries were doing their best to fix any glitches in the deal before President George Bush's visit here next month.

US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Nicholas Burns, who held talks with Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran here, told reporters that there was no question that both countries wanted to complete these negotiations.

''...But there are still some remaining differences between us and those differences need to be worked out,'' he said after the first round of talks with Mr Saran.

Referring to Mr Bush's address to the Asiatic Society in Washington yesterday in which the US President asked India to have a plan for separation, Mr Burns said the plan needed to be ''credible and transparent.'' Asked if the deal could be finalised during President Bush's visit, the US Under-Secretary said ''We simply don't know if it will happen before President Bush's visit. We are trying our best...'' Mr Burns, who arrived here last night for the crucial round of negotiations, and Mr Saran were also scheduled to prepare ground for President Bush's visit to India from March one-three.

The two officials were making efforts to iron out any diferences in the implementation of the nuclear agreement even as President Bush said in an address to the Asiatic Society in Washington last night that ''time and patience'' were required in the implementation of the agreement.

Mr Bush said it was not easy for both India and America but reaffirmed his commitment to the deal.

Mr Burns who arrived from Vienna, will be here till February 25.

During his four-day stay, the two countries will try to advance the new strategic partnership between them.

The visit of Mr Burns is aimed at efforts to resolve the technical matters that divide the Indian and the US negotiating teams on the ticklish issue of separation of India's civilian and military nuclear facilities.

Besides Mr Saran, Mr Burns will also meet other senior government officials.

Mr Burns has said that both India and the US were ''90 per cent of the way'' and had only ''10 per cent'' to go.

''This has been a uniquely complicated negotiation between two equal parties. But we are committed to it. And as long as both of us show flexibility in the details, I'm confident that we will come to an agreement,'' he was quoted as having said.

Mr Burns arrived here two days after India and France signed a 'Declaration' for cooperation for developing Nuclear Energy for Peaceful Purposes. However, signing on an 'Agreement' is pending subject to clearance of the July 18 Indo-US Deal by the powerful 44-nation nuclear lobby--the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

France is an important member of the NSG which has crucial influence on the successful implementation of the July 18 Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Energy Agreement.

Mr Burns travelled over the weekend to Moscow for a meeting of the G-8 Political Directors.

As preparation for the July St. Petersburg G-8 Summit, the Under Secretary of State and his counterparts discussed a variety of cross-cutting issues like non-proliferation, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics.

He also discussed regional issues including West Asia, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan/Darfur.


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