Clinton, Rao Discuss Civil Nuke Cooperation

Lalit K Jha/Washington
Clinton, Rao Discuss Civil Nuke Cooperation
A host of issues like the civil nuclear cooperation, Iran and Afghanistan figured in talks between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indian envoy Nirupama Rao, with both agreeing to work for consolidating the "tremendous progress" made in boosting Indo-US strategic ties.

This was Rao's first meeting with Clinton after the former foreign secretary assumed the top diplomatic position here late last year.

"They talked about maintaining the momentum in our bilateral relationship and our strategic dialogue," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at her daily news conference last evening.

Rao has already done a lot of travelling around the United States and been to a lot of American universities, and she was able to give the Secretary some flavour for that, Nuland said.

"They also talked about the full range of bilateral issues, including the importance of our civil nuclear cooperation and our continued efforts to chart a way forward that'll bring India the benefits of American nuclear technology," she said.

"They talked about Afghanistan and the important role that India plays in supporting the new Silk Road Initiative, and private sector capacity building in Afghanistan," Nuland said, adding that they also discussed Myanmar.

Responding to questions, Nuland said the two countries are still working through the legal and regulatory issues that the US has with India.

Clinton and Rao also talked about Iran and how New Delhi and Washington can work together on the issue of US and EU sanctions against Tehran, Nuland said.

The US is urging India to decrease its dependence on Iranian oil, which New Delhi insists is very difficult to achieve.

"As we've said a number of times over the last week and a half, we have had intensive conversations with the government of India in Delhi about this legislation, and we are continuing to work with them on how we can implement it together in a phased and managed way," Nuland said.

"I'm not going to give you an up-and-down scorecard on our consultations with each of these countries as they happen, and I'm not in a position to comment on stray Israeli media reports (in this regard)," the spokesperson said.

However, neither the State Department nor the Indian embassy would say if the issue of popular television host Jay Leno's remarks on Golden Temple figured during the Clinton-Rao talks.

"Both recognised that there has been tremendous progress in strengthening the India-US global strategic partnership and they agreed to continue their efforts to further consolidate upon the progress made and work towards implementing the initiatives that had been taken in the last few years, including in the area of civil nuclear cooperation," said Indian embassy spokesman Virander Paul.

"Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rao also exchanged perspectives on regional issues of mutual interest including the situation in Afghanistan, and recent developments with regard to Iran and Myanmar," he added.
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