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Indo-US officials work hard to conclude talks on reprocessing facility

November 21, 2009 23:24 IST

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama prepare to meet in Washington on Tuesday, Indian and US officials are working hard to conclude negotiations on the reprocessing facility, a key step in implementation of the nuclear deal which is in the "last stretch".

India is expected to give assurance on non-proliferation, which is a mandatory requirement for the US to give licences to companies for civil nuclear deal with New Delhi.

These two steps, besides enactment of Civil Nuclear Liabilities legislation by India, have been holding up the implementation of the deal reached last year.

"We are in the last stage, last stretch of the civil nuclear deal," an Indian government source said, adding that this would be reflected in the joint statement to be issued after Singh-Obama talks on Tuesday.

On the dedicated reprocessing facility to be set up by India as per the 123 Agreement, the sources said a team of Indian officials is already in the US, ahead of the prime minister's visit, to negotiate "one or two remaining issues".

The two sides are working fast considering that the negotiations started only in August and were to be completed in a year thereafter.

The Liabilities Bill has been cleared by the cabinet and will be introduced in Parliament soon, the sources said.

India will also provide assurance on non-proliferation required by the US Energy Department to give licences under Section 810.

During the talks between Singh and Obama, the two sides will also sign a Member of Understanding on counter terrorism initiative, under which the scope of cooperation would increase and the US would be supplying more hi-tech equipment like locating of mobile phones, the sources said.

This equipment would be critical for fight against terrorism, as it will enable the security agencies to have pinpoint location of mobile phone that may be used by terrorists. At present, Indian agencies do not have such capabilities.

Singh and Obama are also expected to discuss progress in the 26/11-attacks case, amid India's disappointment that Pakistan is not showing the required seriousness and urgency in prosecuting the accused.

The prime minister and the US President would also exchange views on Afghanistan-Pakistan situation. India remains concerned by persisting threat of terror attacks emanating from Pakistan, which is expected to be articulated by Singh.

Obama is expected to outline what the US is doing about the Af-Pak situation and Singh will give his ideas and suggestions.

The exchange of views between Singh and Obama on Af-Pak would be significant considering that the US is expected to announce new Af-Pak policy next week. It would have to be seen if Singh's views are factored in that policy.

India says it has a stake in the Af-Pak developments and the PM-Obama discussions on it ahead of the US' announcement of new policy is seen as a recognition of India's role in the region.

New Delhi, however, notes that it is not interested in military involvement in Afghanistan and will limit itself to training Afghan security personnel.

Defence cooperation will also figure in the Summit talks in Washington.
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