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India, US agree defence nuclear deals

INDIA: The United States struck deals here Monday to pave the way for billions of dollars in exports of civilian nuclear reactors and military hardware to India, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

At a news conference with her Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna, Clinton also pledged to deepen US efforts with India to fight global climate change, check the cross-border spread of nuclear weapons and boost international trade.

"We believe cooperation between our two countries will be a driver of progress in the 21st century," Clinton said during a five-day visit in which she hailed India's emergence as a significant player on the world stage.

The chief US diplomat said she had reassured her Indian hosts that President Barack Obama would not only maintain, but deepen a "strategic partnership" launched under his predecessor George W. Bush.

Clinton said the new administration was first of all committed to a landmark but controversial agreement on civil nuclear cooperation sealed last year under Bush.

Both the Obama and Bush administrations argued the agreement carries appropriate safeguards even though India, which has nuclear weapons, has refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Clinton added that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in line with that agreement, told her Monday that his new government had approved sites for the construction of two multi-billion-dollar US nuclear reactors.

State Department officials said the parks are in the states of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

The sites will not only advance the civil nuclear aims, but also "facilitate billions of dollars in US reactor exports and create jobs in both countries as well as generate much needed energy for the Indian people," Clinton said.

Clinton and Krishna also announced that the two sides had agreed an "end-use monitoring" arrangement that would provide safeguards for the sale of sophisticated US weaponry to India.

New Delhi, Tuesday, AFP



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