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US preparing for Manmohan Singh's Nov 24 visit

New York, Sep 26, 2009

The United States is hard at work preparing for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's state visit on Nov 24 as it views India as one of its most important partners in the 21st century.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conveyed this to External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna as they met here Friday to discuss the shape of their emerging strategic partnership.

Manmohan Singh's visit will be the first state visit of the Obama administration, and "still a lot of work is to be done there," said Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State briefing reporters on the Clinton-Krishna meeting.

Clinton told Krishna that the US hoped to move forward on civil nuclear cooperation with India.

There are still some steps that have to be taken there, particularly with respect to signing liability legislation, getting the Indian parliament to approve liability legislation for US companies, but also to announce formally the two reactor parks that will be set aside for US companies, Blake said.

The UN Security Council resolution urging all states to join the NPT did not come up at the Clinton-Krishna meeting. But "we've said before that the resolution does not have any bearing on our bilateral civil nuclear cooperation, and that really shouldn't have any effect whatsoever."

"So we've provided reassurances to that effect to our friends in the Indian government," Blake said.

Recalling her very positive visit to India in July and the launch of the US-India Strategic Dialogue, Clinton touched on some of the things that are already underway.

Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram during a visit to Washington earlier this month had a wide range of appointments to discuss how they can further enhance the already strong counter-terrorism cooperation between the US and India, she noted.

Touching on India-Pakistan relations, Clinton hoped that the two sides can agree on the steps that they believe are necessary to get their relations back on a more positive footing.

On India-Pakistan, Blake said "our position has always been that this is something that needs to be worked out between our two friends, India and Pakistan."

Clinton also briefed Krishna on President Barack Obama's announcement with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown about US concerns regarding the new Iranian nuclear facility.

On Iran, Blake said Clinton made no requests. But he recalled that "Mammohan Singh has repeatedly made clear that they don't believe it is in India's interest to have another nuclear weapons state in the region."

Clinton also reaffirmed the importance of the US and India working together to achieve a successful outcome at Copenhagen on climate change, Blake said.


Manmohan Singh