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India, U.S. Sign Space-defense Deals, To Begin Strategic Dialogue

smkrishna 072009

In a landmark step to build strong partnership between India and the United States, the two countries signed three strategically important deals designed to give U.S. companies more access to India's expanding markets and launched a new forum for meaningful dialogue covering climate change, disarmament and non-proliferation.

This was announced at a joint press conference by visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her Indian counterpart S M Krishna in New Delhi on Monday.

While Krishna said that India and the U.S. regard each other as world powers, Clinton vowed that her government was committed to strong partnership with India.

The dialogue will be based on "five pillars" identified by the two leaders during talks earlier in the day. Intended to take Indo-U.S. relations to a higher level, termed as 'version 3.0' by Clinton, the new dialogue will also cover areas like education, health and development.

"In our bilateral partnership, Secretary Clinton and I have focused on the new agenda for India-U.S. 3.0 in which we will build up on the excellent economic and political partnerships that already exist," Krishna told reporters.

Clinton and Krishna signed agreements on science and technology, space cooperation, and end-user monitoring accord on arms and defense technology to be sold to India by the U.S.

The new Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) will cover launches involving satellites owned by U.S. government or academic institutions or by third country space agencies and universities which have U.S. equipment on board. Since the components and satellites will have to be integrated with Indian Space Research Organization's launch vehicles, the TSA will provide for monitoring by the U.S. side to ensure against diversion or misuse of equipment.

A second agreement was signed on a framework for "robust result-oriented cooperation" in science and technology for "collaborative research and its commercialization."

The signing of the end-use monitoring accord enables India to procure sophisticated U.S. defense technology and equipment.

As India is currently in a major process of upgrading its defense equipments, the end-user agreement will allow U.S. companies to bid for Indian defense contracts. Estimated at over $10 billion, it is one of the biggest defense deals globally, reports say.

Clinton said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh informed her that sites for building two nuclear parks by U.S. companies had been approved by the Indian government.

It is the first step to implement a bilateral civilian nuclear deal signed last year. It will 'facilitate billions of dollars in U.S. reactor exports, create jobs in both countries as well as generate much needed energy for the Indian people," Clinton said.

She clarified that there is no difference between India and the U.S. over the Iran issue.

She began the hectic day addressing students and faculty members at Delhi University in the Indian capital. The top U.S. diplomat said Washington is "interested in diplomacy that goes beyond government."

She said in the current century, the greatness of a country can be defined by the power of its example, as different from the past era, when a nation's greatness was measured by "the size of its military, or its economic strength, or its capacity to dominate its friends and adversaries."

During her meeting with Manmohan Singh, Clinton presented president Barack Obama's invitation for a state visit on November 24. Singh accepted the invitation.

She also held talks with Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the ruling Congress party; and L.K. Advani, the leader of the Hindu-nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

Clinton's India visit, her first as secretary of state, reflects a push by the Obama administration to improve U.S.-India relations.

After concluding her four-day tour of India, Clinton will leave for Thailand on Tuesday morning to attend the ASEAN Forum.

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