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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
India and US work on nuclear deal
Shyam Saran and Nicholas Burns
Both sides are trying to sort out their differences
A top US official has held talks in India to push forward a landmark nuclear deal between the two countries.

US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns met Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran in Delhi.

In July, India and the United States agreed to co-operate in civilian nuclear energy programmes.

It was a boost for India, which has not signed the non-proliferation treaty. In return, Delhi agreed to separate civilian and military facilities.

It also said it would place the former under International Atomic Energy Agency norms.

The two officials held several hours of discussions and said they hoped to settle all issues in time for a visit by US President Bush, who is expected in India early next year.

My trip... is to focus on agreement on a timetable that will lead to decisions in the US Congress to change our law
Nicholas Burns
US Under Secretary of State

Under the agreement, US companies will be allowed to build nuclear power plants in India, and also supply fuel for nuclear reactors.

But differences still remain between the two sides, particularly on the steps India needs to take before the deal is passed before the US Congress.

"We sought certain clarifications from the American side and the Americans sought clarifications from us," Mr Saran told journalists after Friday's talks.


The move by the Bush administration to make an exception in the case of India has raised concern in the US Congress, with opposition voiced by both Republican and Democrats.

The Bhabha atomic plant outside Mumbai, India
India is looking at nuclear power to meet its energy needs

But the US government has said it is confident of pushing the deal through Congress, which must ratify it .

"Our administration is fully committed to the agreement. We believe it is beneficial to both," Mr Burns said.

The Bush administration needs to change US law to allow the agreement with India to go through.

The nuclear deal, signed during a visit to Washington by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, capped a recent increase in ties between the two countries.

Its growing proximity to Washington is believed to have influenced India to back a recent resolution at the IAEA referring Iran's nuclear activities to the UN Security Council.

The surprise move was seen as a major shift in India's foreign policy and has been widely criticised by the government's Communist allies and opposition parties.

The US imposed curbs on nuclear technology transfers to India in the wake of India's nuclear tests in 1998.

Delhi is keen on a deal on ways to share nuclear technology to help meet its growing energy needs.

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