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Liberal tech transfer, nuke cooperation on PM's agenda in US

November 20, 2009 14:27 IST

India will seek a "liberal" regime of technology transfer from the US and an early

operationalisation of the civil nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said ahead of his visit here next week.

Terming the US and India as "strategic partners," Singh said renewing partnership with a new administration and identifying new areas of cooperation will be an important part of his visit as the first state guest of President Barack Obama.

"We are strategic partners. We have good relations. But there is a new administration in America. So it is appropriate that I should renew our partnership," Singh said in an interview to The Washington Post ahead of his visit that begins on Sunday.

Describing the Indo-US civil nuclear deal as a landmark agreement, Singh said India would like to operationalise it and ensure its objectives are realised in full.

"My hope is that we can persuade the US administration to be more liberal when it comes to transferring technologies to us. The restrictions make no sense. India has an impeccable record of not participating in any proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. So that's my number one concern," he said.

He said India and the US could be partners in refocusing attention on an "equitable, balanced global order".

"We would like to strengthen energy cooperation with the United States -- (in) clean coal technology and in renewable energy resources," he said.

Singh said India would also like to have cooperation in the field of agriculture, where it wants to achieve a second Green Revolution to attain food security.

"We would like to have a second Green Revolution in our country -- therefore, cooperation in the field of agriculture, in science and technology, in health, and in dealing with pandemics," he said.

Asked what he expects to achieve on his visit, Singh said besides nuclear cooperation, he wanted greater cooperation in education, closer linkages between the university systems of the two countries and cooperation in health that includes "working together to devise new vaccines".

Noting that climate change is a responsibility of all humanity, he said developed countries had an obligation to perform on reduction of carbon emissions.

"I hope that Copenhagen will reaffirm that. Without the US giving a lead, I don't see a deal at Copenhagen that can become a reality... We recognise our own responsibilities... We have put in place a national action plan to deal with climate change," he said.

On India's relations with China, Singh said there is enough space in the world to accommodate the ambitions of both countries.

He also said that the two countries have a long pending border dispute, which they are trying to resolve through dialogue.

"China has emerged as a major trading partner with us. But we have problems with China with regard to our boundary dispute, and we both are engaged in discussions of the boundary," Singh said.

Asked if he viewed China as a threat, a trading partner or both, Singh said, "I believe there is enough space in the world to accommodate the ambitions of both India and China".

On Iran's nuclear ambitions, Singh said while as a signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty, Tehran has an obligation to not develop weapons but it must be allowed the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

"It must have all the privileges that go with being a member of the NPT, (including) the peaceful uses of nuclear energy... It also has all the obligations that go with NPT membership. Therefore, I think nuclear weapons are not an option," he said.

Singh, who recently hosted Iran Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in New Delhi, said Iran feels encouraged by the messages it has received from the Obama administration.

"I met recently with the Iranian foreign minister. We did discuss the nuclear question. The message he left with me was that they feel encouraged by the messages they are receiving from the Obama administration," he said.

Asked about Iran pursuing a nuclear weapons programme, he said, "I had the pleasure of (meeting) the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency a few weeks ago, and he was not so sure that Iran is definitely working towards a nuclear weapon."
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