US committed to its nuke deal with India despite NSG restrictions: Official

 US committed to its nuke deal with India despite NSG restrictions: OfficialWashington, July 9: The United States is looking forward to its second Strategic Dialogue with India later this month and continues to be deeply committed to expanding the bilateral partnership between the two countries and to help shape the 21st Century in a way that contributes to both global security and prosperity, a senior State Department official has said.

Participating in a interactive web chat with Indian journalists from Washington, Robert O. Blake, Jr., Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, said that neither the United States nor India could afford to take their partnership for granted, and added that the Strategic Dialogue in the third week of July would aim to construct "concrete steps that sustain the spirit of what the President (Barack Obama) and Prime Minister (Dr. Manmohan Singh) have started."

When asked by Asian News International whether the 2005 U. S.-India civil nuclear cooperation deal had again hit upon a road block with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) tightening its rules on equipment sales, and whether it would be salvaged during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to New Delhi this month, Blake said: "The Obama administration remains fully committed to the civil nuclear deal and to all of the commitments that were made during the President's visit in November (2010)."

Referring specifically to the recent NSG actions, he said: "The Obama administration fully supports the so-called clean Nuclear Suppliers Group exception for India and the speedy implementation of our bilateral nuclear cooperation. Nothing about the new enrichment and reprocessing transfer restrictions that were recently agreed to by the

NSG members will in any way detract from our existing nuclear cooperation."

Blake said that the Strategic Dialogue offered both Washington and New Delhi an opportunity to review progress made since the June 2010 meeting in Washington and President Obama's visit to India last November.

"We've done a lot since the President's highly successful trip. As part of our commitment to treat India as a non-proliferation partner we de-listed DRDO and ISRO from the Commerce Department's Entities List. We removed India from most unilateral license requirements and have worked hard with India on its membership in the four arms control regimes. We have conducted regional consultations on Asia and I held the first Central Asia Dialogue with my counterpart in June," Blake said.

He also said that both the United States and India were discussing their joint objectives in Afghanistan.

On the economic side, he said trade has doubled twice over the past ten years and continues to drive the partnership.

" In 2010 two-way trade rose 30 percent from the year before. This year we finalized the C-17 deal which gives India the second-largest C-17 fleet in the world and positions India to take a leading role on crisis response and humanitarian missions. The deal also doubled our defense trade," Blake said.

He said that the US Department of Energy had also announced a funding of 25 million dollars in funding for the U. S.-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center.

"We hope to mobilize 100 million dollars of public and private sector funds to promote clean energy. These activities, and there are many many more, demonstrate the breadth and the depth of our relationship. The Strategic Dialogue will have a broad array of interagency participation, including the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, Defense, and several other agencies," he said. (ANI)