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India,US hoping for progress in nuclear, defence, tech transfer

Narendra Modi & Barack Obama

New Delhi: Moving forward on issues of civil nuclear deal, technology transfer and joint ventures in defence will be among the key areas where India and the US will like to have “concrete deliverables” during the three-day high-voltage trip of US President Barack Obama from tomorrow.

However, the US President’s schedule, which earlier included a visit to iconic Taj, had to be readjusted due to his last minute plans to travel to Riyadh on January 27 to pay respects to King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the family of the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. President Obama “regrets” not being able to visit the Taj, White House said in a statement.

Both countries are working hard to have “excellent” outcomes during the visit of Obama, who will have a tight schedule including talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, attending Republic Day celebrations as the Chief Guest, meeting with business leaders, and an address on ‘India and America: The Future We Can Build Together’.

Describing the Presidential visit as “one of our most important diplomatic engagements in recent times”, Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin had said cooperation in key areas of defence, security, counter-terrorism and the situation in India’s extended neighbourhood would be among the issues to be discussed between Obama and Prime Minister Modi.

Asked about the differences between the two sides on the nuclear deal, he said that “progress has been made” during the previous negotiations and India was looking forward to “effectively” work with the US in the “extremely important” nuclear field.

The Indian liability law holds the suppliers directly liable in case of a nuclear accident while countries like France and the US have asked India to follow global norms under which the primary liability is with the operator.

Since all the nuclear power plants in the country are run by the government-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, following international norms will mean the government would have to pay the damages in case of an accident.

Another contentious clause in the liability law was unlimited liability for which international companies will find it difficult to get insurers.

According to the sources, progress was made during the two-day meeting of Indo-US Contact Group in London, but some lingering issues may require resolution at the political level.

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