In a major breakthrough, India and the US on Sunday reached a consensus on how to take forward the stalled civil nuclear deal by agreeing on commercial cooperation and reaching a commitment to resolve remaining legal differences.
The deal was agreed upon following a meeting on Sunday at Hyderabad House in Delhi between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama who started a three day visit to India.
The two leaders also agreed to take defence cooperation to a new level including upgrading domestic defence industry and procuring advanced technologies.
The details of the operationalisation of the nuclear deal were not immediately available. The civil nuclear deal, signed in 2008 between then PM Manmohan Singh and US President George Bush, was in limbo for more than six years.
In his opening remarks at the joint media interaction, Modi said, on the nuclear deal the two countries “are moving towards commercial cooperation, consistent with our law, our international obligations and technical and commercial viability.”
One of the major issues resolved on Sunday included US abandoning its demand for tracking fuel supplies, even from third countries, to the Indian reactors. India had opposed this demand while agreeing for IAEA oversight, to which US has come around.
In the second major breakthrough, the two countries have also overcome the issues of liability clause in the Civil Nuclear Damage Law over which the US nuclear suppliers have serious reservations. On the insurance liability clause, India has been telling the US that it will build a pool that will indemnify American reactor builders against liability in case of an accident.
“Today, we achieved a breakthrough on two issues that were holding up our ability to advance our civil nuclear cooperation and we are committed to moving towards full implementation,” Obama said in his remarks. “This is an important step that shows how we can work together to elevate our relationship,” he said.
Modi said Obama has also assured him of strong US efforts in support of India’s full membership of the four international export control regimes at the earliest. “Today, we have also decided to take our growing defence cooperation to a new level.
We have agreed, in principle, to pursue co-development and co-production of specific advanced defence projects. “These will help upgrade our domestic defence industry; and expand the manufacturing sector in India. We will also explore cooperation in other areas of advanced defence technologies,” he said.
The two leaders said they have decided to scale up their economic relationship including holding talks in future on a bilateral investment treaty. Modi said India and the US will also restart discussions on a social security agreement which is important for the hundreds of thousands of Indian professionals working in the US.
Modi said both sides have established a number of “effective” bilateral mechanisms to identify opportunities and also help businesses.
“We will also resume our dialogue on Bilateral Investment Treaty. We will also restart discussions on a Social Security Agreement that is so important for the hundreds of thousands of Indian professionals working in the United States,” he said.
Modi said success of the Indo-US partnership was important for progress of both the countries and to advance peace, stability and prosperity around the world. “We will continue to deepen our collaboration in science, technology, innovation, agriculture, health, education and skills.
These are central to the future of our two countries; and also give us an opportunity to help others around the world. “Indeed, our strategic partnership will only be complete if we assume our responsibility to work together to promote development and connectivity in our vast region.
President Obama and I agreed to pursue this goal with a sense of priority,” he said. Modi said both he and Obama renewed their commitment to deepen cooperation to advance peace, stability, prosperity in Asia, Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, which is critical for the future of our two countries and the destiny of this world.
“Our relationship stands at a new level today. We have outlined a broad vision for our friendship and cooperation that reflects the opportunities and challenges of this century,” he said. He said both the leaders have decided to give the “critical partnership” a new thrust and sustained attention.
“For this, we have agreed that India and the United States must have regular summits at greater frequency. And, we will also establish hotlines between us and our National Security Advisors. At the beginning of this year, we start a new journey,” he said.
Bilateral trade to improve: Ami Bera
Applauding US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on civil nuclear and defence agreements, an influential Indian-American Congressman today said the deals would make billions of dollars in trade possible for American companies.
“The nuclear deal announced today makes billions of dollars in trade possible for US companies that want to build and invest in India,” said Congressman Ami Bera, part of the presidential delegation to India.
“That creates jobs in the US and helps grow our economy,” Bera said in a statement.
Bera is the only Indian-American lawmaker in the current Congress and the third ever.
He said: “This is a deal we have been hoping to make for quite some time, and getting it done is another historic step forward in the US-India relationship.”
“Continued cooperation in defence also benefits both democracies as we deal with terrorism around the world.”
The two-term Democratic Congressman from California is the current co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans — the largest country-specific caucus in the US House of Representatives.