India, US set for nuclear business during Clinton visit
New Delhi/Washington (IANS): Unfazed by the G8 ban on enrichment and re-processing (ENR) technologies, India is set to take its civil nuclear trade with the US forward by offering American companies two nuclear parks during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's five-day visit to the country starting Friday.
Ms. Clinton's first visit to India after she became the Obama administration's chief diplomat begins in Mumbai Friday night.
The visit will focus on ushering in Phase III of the strategic partnership, which Ms. Clinton recently described as "3.0" version, borrowing an analogy from IT software.
Ms. Clinton's long-awaited trip is expected to see the first concrete move in re-starting nuclear trade since the two countries signed the landmark bilateral agreement last year, with India readying to provide two sites for nuclear reactors to be set up by US companies.
The announcement about the allocation of the two sites is likely to be made during Ms. Clinton's visit, reliable sources said.
The two sites are likely to be in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, the sources added.
In Mumbai, she will be staying at the Taj Mahal Hotel in an act of solidarity with the 26/11 victims. She will also meet top Indian businessman at a luncheon hosted by Ratan Tata, chairman of India-US CEOs forum.
She will also interact with volunteers of the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), an NGO, and a social event that will be attended by, among others, by film star Aamir Khan. A visit to St. Xavier's College is also on her itinerary.
Ms. Clinton will fly to New Delhi Sunday. She will attend a meet on climate change and interact with scientists working in agriculture at the Pusa Institute - two important areas of India-US cooperation.
Ms. Clinton will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani Monday. She flies to Thailand Tuesday to attend the meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Phuket.
With the G8 declaration at the recent L'Aquila summit banning the export of the sensitive ENR technologies, India will seek clarifications from the US when Manmohan Singh and Krishna meet Ms. Clinton.
Despite the confusion over the US' stand on re-processing, specially in the context of the Obama administration's renewed activism over non-proliferation issue, the two sides are expected to hold their first negotiations on reprocessing early August.
India is not deeply concerned (over the G8 stand) as it had received a country-specific clean waiver from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament Monday.
Besides, the US will not like to jeopardise its chances of doing nuclear business with India by reneging on its commitment on re-processing, a crucial part of the nuclear promise made to India by the US in the 123 bilateral agreement, the source said.
Nuclear cooperation apart, Ms. Clinton's visit will focus on forging "an enhanced US-India strategic partnership" offering solutions to the challenges of 21st century.
With Krishna, she "will discuss the structure and elements of an enhanced US-India strategic partnership that will enable us to advance solutions to the defining challenges of our time and to enhance global prosperity and stability in the 21st century", US State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters in Washington Tuesday.
Kelly, who will be part of the US team, said Ms. Clinton had no plans of stopping by or visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan during her trip. "I'm sure that she will visit Afghanistan and Pakistan, but not on this visit. It's just to India and Thailand," he said.
Ms. Clinton had outlined her vision of India-US strategic partnership under the Obama administration in a speech she gave at the US-India Business Council's (USIBC) Synergies Summit in Washington last month.
Calling India one of the few nations the new Obama administration saw as a global partner, she had vowed to usher in a new era of relations with India with a "dramatic expansion in our common agenda and a greater role for India, in solving global challenges."
"We see India as one of a few key partners worldwide who will help us shape the 21st century," she declared.
Images: Negative-heroes staging a comeback in Kollywood
Images: Indian contingents wow French crowds