Saturday, November 19, 2011

Manmohan-Obama Meeting: Efforts To Accelerate Bilateral Ties

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met US President Barack Obama in Bali (Indonesia). The Indian prime minister said that India had gone "some way" to allay the concerns of US firms by notifying rules for nuclear business and any specific grievance would be addressed within the "four corners" of Indian laws.
The issue came up during the over one-hour meeting between Singh and Obama here against the backdrop of apprehensions among US firms that Indian liability laws were not supplier friendly.
"I explained to him (Obama) that we have a law in place. Rules have been formulated. These rules will lie before our Parliament for 30 days. Therefore, we have gone some way to respond to the concerns of US companies and within the four corners of the law of the land we are willing to address any specific grievances," Singh told reporters after his meeting with Obama.
The rules, which were notified on Wednesday, make it clear among other things that there would be no unlimited or unending liability on part of the suppliers.
Obama, a day after India signaled it was willing to meet US and other potential nuclear supplier groups halfway by limiting the suppliers’ liability to a shorter period.
US-India-Australia Trilateral Relationship

Obama, in his opening remarks, with a visibly pleased Singh standing by his side, pointedly said the US would focus on how Washington and Delhi could work together “not only on bilateral issues but also in multilateral fora like the East Asia Summit, which we believe can be the premier arena for us to work together on a wide range of issues such as maritime security or non-proliferation, as well as expand the kind of cooperation on disaster relief and humanitarian aid that’s so important.”His remarks mark the culmination of a series of carefully calibrated statements that have pegged India and Australia as part of an emerging “robust, principled US-India-Australia trilateral relationship” in the Asia-Pacific, where the US has shown renewed interest.The prime minister publicly indicated the liability bill was on the agenda, and said as much to the media after the talks with Obama. “I explained to him we have a law in place and rules have been formulated... These will lie in Parliament for 30 days. We have gone some way to respond to concerns of American companies and within the four corners of the law of the land, we are willing to address any specific grievances.”
The prime minister said he had also told Obama that India was ready to ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC), another issue that the US wants to be done as part of implementation of the civil nuclear deal. "That's where the matter stands," he said.
Sources said the issue came up during the course of review of implementation of decisions taken by the two sides. They claimed that Obama did not respond and merely "noted" the prime minister's statement.
Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Act
Under the Rules of Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Act, foreign suppliers of nuclear material to Indian nuclear power plants would not be held liable for accidents caused by defective or faulty equipment supplied by them if the accident takes place after a guarantee period specified by them.
During the meeting, the first since Obama visited India last November, the two leaders also talked about strengthening the bonds of strategic ties put in place during the historic visit.
The two leaders also discussed issues related to the region as well as Singh's recent meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Maldives and steps being taken to improve bilateral ties.
In the context of regional situation, the Prime Minister and Obama discussed Afghanistan. He apprised the US President about President Hamid Karzai's visit to India and the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between the two countries.
Issues related to Iran's nuclear program were also discussed in the backdrop of damning report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general, with the Prime Minister saying the issue should be dealt with diplomatically.

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