US, India keen to resolve nuclear liability deadlock

Nisha BiswalAhead of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US later this month, the US has indicated that it is keen to resolve the “tough issues’ impacting the implementation of the civil nuclear deal between the two countries.

“There is a very strong desire by this new government, and a very strong desire by the US, to work through those tough issues and to be able to make progress,” said US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal in Washington September 17.

Biswal was alluding to US’s concerns regarding India’s nuclear liability law that puts the burden of compensation on suppliers and contractors in case of an atomic accident.

While the nuclear deal was unveiled in 2005 and signed in 2008, the continued deadlock has been frustrating for both countries. This issue has been raised in a series of recent high-level interactions, including the strategic dialogue between US Secretary of State John Kerry and India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

In a recent interaction with the media, Swaraj had clarified that there were no plans for a significant change to existing international agreements, including “civil or nuclear agreements.”

The Modi government has initiated “renewed attention towards, and a recommitment on, trying to work through those issues, and we welcome that,” added Biswal.

Biswal said relations between New Delhi and Washington have improved in the last year. US President Barak Obama and Modi will discuss a wide range of issues including regional security, economic cooperation, counter-terrorism, science and technology and environment during their upcoming full-spectrum meeting in Washington on September 30.

 

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