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India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh begins US visit

Manmohan Singh
Mr Singh meets President Obama on Tuesday

Indian PM Manmohan Singh has begun a visit to the US for talks expected to be dominated by Afghanistan, climate change and nuclear energy cooperation.

Mr Singh has said that a victory for the Taliban in Afghanistan would be a catastrophe for South and Central Asia.

He said he was concerned about the spread of Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorism to Pakistan's heartlands.

India hopes the summit talks will see the finalisation of the civilian nuclear deal with the US.

I have no apprehension that our relations with the United States would in any way suffer because of the change of administration
Indian PM Manmohan Singh

During his visit, Mr Singh will hold meetings with business leaders and foreign policy scholars.

He will meet US President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

"It is very important that both the US and the global community stay engaged in Afghanistan," Mr Singh told The Washington Post newspaper and Newsweek magazine ahead of his arrival on Sunday.

Mr Singh urged the Obama administration to put pressure on Pakistan to crack down on militants in the country.

'Nothing to fear'

"We have been the victims of Pakistan-aided, abetted and inspired terrorism for nearly 25 years. We would like the United States to use all its influence with Pakistan to desist from that path," Mr Singh said in the interview.

Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh addresses the US Chamber of Commerce

"Pakistan has nothing to fear from India. It's a tragedy that Pakistan has come to the point of using terror as an instrument of state policy."

Mr Singh expressed doubts over whether Pakistan and the US had similar objectives in Afghanistan.

"I don't see Pakistan wholeheartedly in support of action against the Taliban in Afghanistan. They of course are taking action against the Taliban, but only when it threatens the supremacy of the army," he said.

In a separate interview, Mr Singh also said that he hoped that the Obama administration would complete the finalisation of the deal on nuclear energy which Delhi struck with former President Bush.

India and the US have forged closer defence and economic ties in recent years.

Last year they signed a civilian nuclear co-operation accord to end 34 years of US sanctions.

India gains access to US civilian nuclear technology and fuel in return for inspections of its civilian, but not military, nuclear facilities.



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