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Bush Unveils Deeper US-India Space, Nuclear Cooperation

The US logically sees India as a counter force to China.
Monterrey (AFP) Jan 12, 2004
US President George W. Bush announced Monday that the United States and India would deepen cooperation on civilian nuclear activities, civilian space programs and high-technology trade.

In a statement released on the margins of the Summit of the Americas here, Bush said he and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had also agreed "to expand our dialogue on missile defense."

"Cooperation in these areas will deepen the ties of commerce and friendship between our two nations, and will increase stability in Asia and beyond," the president said.

The two nations will take "a series of reciprocal steps," including expanded engagement on nuclear regulatory and safety issues, missile defense, and seek ways to enhance cooperation in peaceful uses of space technology, said Bush.

On the high-technology trade front, the two sides will tighten restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Bush called the expanded cooperation "an important milestone in transforming the relationship between the United States and India. That relationship is based increasingly on common values and common interests."

"We are working together to promote global peace and prosperity," he said. "We are partners in the war on terrorism and we are partners in controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them."

In Washington, a senior State Department official said the "strategic partnership" agreement was the result of discussions begun between Bush and Vajpayee in 2001 but stressed that it would be at least months and maybe years before it would come to meaningful fruition.

"My guess is this is going to take some months if not some years to play out because there is a lot of work to be done to fill out the details here," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

To benefit, India must enact or tighten up its export control laws to ensure that Indian firms do not transfer sensitive technology to suspect nations, groups or individuals, the official said.

"What we're offering is contingent on specific steps on the part of India to protect against diversion or unauthorized use of any US exports and to address our broader export control concerns," the official said.

The official said the agreement was unrelated to recent progress on India's resuming a dialogue with nuclear rival Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir, over which the two countries have fought to of their three wars.

And the official insisted that the deal did not constitute tacit US approval or acceptance of India's nuclear weapons or ballistic missile programs.

"This is not about diminishing in any way our concern about India's nuclear weapons or ballistic missile programs," the official said, adding that US assistance to such developments was precluded.

"We won't, in any of the things that may come in this program, do anything to support India's nuclear weapons of ballistic program," the official said.

The official said the United States had informed the Pakistani government about the agreement before the White House made the announcement and that Washington was offering Islamabad a similar dialogue on missile defense.

Although Monday's agreement was years in the making, the official said it did not come with any presumption that domestic US laws on the transfer of sensitive technology would be changed, making the effect of the deal uncertain.

All rights reserved. � 2004 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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