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India, U.S. boost tech, trade ties

A scientist at the Indian Space Research Organization.
A scientist at the Indian Space Research Organization.

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United States
Technology (general)
George W. Bush

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration has announced it will increase cooperation with India on civilian nuclear energy, civilian space programs and high technology trade.

The two countries will also step up talks on missile defense, U.S. President George W. Bush said in a written statement.

The initiatives expand on the November 2001 announcement by Bush and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on a strategic partnership between India and the United States.

"The expanded cooperation launched today is an important milestone in transforming the relationship between the United States and India," Bush said.

"We are working together to promote global peace and prosperity. 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."

A senior State Department official said the initiatives took into account India's desires to have deeper engagement from the United States on high technology trade and civilian space programs, but also addressed U.S. concerns about the need for tighter non-proliferation laws and export controls in India.

Both sides came to the conclusion, the official said, that "if you knitted these things together, you might be able to have a quite useful program."

The senior official said the program will be a "phased approach" in which the United States offers India expanded cooperation as India takes concrete steps to address U.S. concerns, especially in the export control area. He said it could take months, if not years, to work out.

The official said the programs will require no changes in U.S. domestic law or affect its international obligations.

In addition, the official said the expanded cooperation does not indicate diminished U.S. concerns about India's nuclear weapons or ballistic missile program, and that any cooperation the United States offered would not support those programs.

On the civil nuclear energy cooperation, the United States has offered to expand the dialogue with Indian regulatory agencies on safety, which was suspended in 1998 and resumed in 2002.

"We think there is more that can be done in the safety area," the official said.

The civil space cooperation will focus on humanitarian and scientific issues and will not be related to space launch vehicles or high resolution remote sensing, the official said.

The new initiatives also include ways for India and the United States to enhance cooperation on peaceful uses for space technology.

Deepening ties

The United States and India will also increase discussions about trade of high technology commerce, and will seek over time to ease U.S. licensing requirements once India takes steps to guard against unauthorized use of the technology and puts in place stronger export controls.

The United States and India also will expand discussions on strategic stability, including 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," Bush said in his statement.

The announcement comes on the heels of improved relations between India and Pakistan and the possibility of talks between the nuclear neighbors on the disputed territory of Kashmir.

However, the senior State Department official disputed the suggestion that the expanded cooperation was a reward for India's role in the easing of tensions.

Conversations between the United States and India on the new initiatives have been going on for months, the official said, and are "totally separate" from current discussions between India and Pakistan.

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