NEW DELHI (AP) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
is applauding new progress in U.S.-India relations, highlighted by
an agreement to broaden cooperation beyond trade and military ties
to include agriculture, education and women's issues.
Clinton was meeting with top Indian officials Monday, including
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna, to
announce a wider partnership between two countries still struggling
to overcome distrust rooted in Cold War rivalries. The Obama
administration regards India as an emerging world power and a key
to turning the tide against violent Islamic extremism.
Clinton was also expected to sign an agreement Monday enabling
U.S. companies sell nuclear reactors to India, and possibly another
on defense sales.
The nuclear deal would give American companies exclusive rights
to sell nuclear power plants at specified locations in India - an
opportunity that could be worth $10 billion for U.S. sellers. A
second deal, which officials said they hoped would also be ready
for signing Monday, is known as an end-use monitoring agreement
that would give the U.S. the right to ensure that U.S. arms sold to
India are used for their intended purpose and that the technology
is not resold or otherwise provided to third countries.
On Sunday, India stood firm against Western demands that it
accept binding limits on carbon emissions even as Clinton expressed
optimism about an eventual climate change deal to India's benefit.
"There is simply no case for the pressure that we - who have
among the lowest emissions per capita - face to actually reduce
emissions," India's minister of environment and forests, Jairam
Ramesh, told Clinton and her visiting delegation in a meeting.
"And as if this pressure was not enough, we also face the
threat of carbon tariffs on our exports to countries such as
yours," he added.
U.S. officials had expected the discussions to focus more on
cooperation in related areas of energy efficiency, green buildings
and clean-burning fuels.
The minister distributed copies of his remarks to reporters in a
gesture aimed at underlining India's tough stance. The comments
showed the political sensitivity in India of one of the Obama
administration's foreign policy priorities.
Clinton said Ramesh presented a "fair argument." But she said
India's case "loses force" because the fast-growing country's
absolute level of carbon emissions - as opposed to the per capita
amount - is "going up, and dramatically."
Later, at an agricultural research site in a farm field outside
the capital, Clinton told reporters she is optimistic about getting
a climate change deal that will satisfy India.
"This is part of a negotiation," she said. "It's part of a
give-and-take and it's multilateral, which makes it even more
complex. But until proven otherwise, I'm going to continue to speak
out in favor of every country doing its part to deal with the
challenge of global climate change."
In an interview with the TV station NDTV on Sunday, Clinton said
she wants to discuss what she called India's more benign
interpretation of Iran's intentions, particularly regarding Iran's
disputed presidential election and its nuclear program. Clinton was
pressed to say whether she is worried that India has a different
view of Iran, which the U.S. sees as a supporter of terrorist
groups, an obstacle to Mideast peace and a threat to build a
"I'm not concerned yet. I want to understand why it is and why
it is held," she said, referring to India's view.
Clinton's trip to India, which began with a two-day visit to
Mumbai, reflects a push by the Obama administration to keep
U.S.-India relations on the improving path they have followed for
more than a decade. For example, two-way trade has doubled since
India is widely viewed as an indispensable partner on climate
change, along with China and Brazil. Those three countries and
others in the developing world argue that the industrial world
produced most of the harmful gases in recent decades and should
bear the costs of fixing the problem.