U.S. suggests possible cooperation in missile tech

Thursday, 20 November 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: The remarks by U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce Kenneth Juster at a meeting organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry here would have been unimaginable a few years ago and reflected the changing times and growing bilateral ties.

He was speaking on "Indo-U.S. hi-technology trade and knowledge controls".

India's Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal, who too addressed the meeting, said New Delhi was aware of Washington's concerns about proliferation of "sensitive technologies".

"As we advance our engagement in these areas, we will strengthen our cooperation in a spirit of equal partnership, to prevent proliferation of sensitive technologies," Sibal assured.

"Situated as India is, in the arc of strategic proliferation, our understanding of the consequences of proliferation and our commitment to preventing it is second to none."

According to informed sources, cooperation in missile technology has been added to what are called the "trinity issues of cooperation" -- civilian space, nuclear power and cutting edge technologies.

This is seen here as a tacit U.S. admission that India's missile defence programme is based on a "no-first-use policy".

Juster and Sibal addressed the meeting after a session of talks at the second meeting of the India-U.S. High Technology Cooperation Group.

Describing the talks as "productive" and "excellent", they said the dialogue would continue later Thursday.

The two sides had "come an enormous way in less than a year" in bilateral dialogue on promoting hi-tech trade, Juster noted.

The U.S. fully understood and appreciated the importance India attached to trade in hi-tech but such cooperation should not undermine international frameworks, he asserted.

"We have no desire to restrict your advances in high technology endeavours," Juster said.

"India is willing to work with us against proliferations and the U.S. recognises India is not a party to the (nuclear) non-proliferation treaty," he said.

In response to a question, Juster said India's signing of international non-proliferation regimes was not a pre-condition for cooperation in the hi-tech field.

There was an "incredible opportunity" to increase bilateral hi-tech trade, Juster said and went on to describe New Delhi as the "next economic tiger" that was set to become the world's third largest economy by 2050.

Both Juster and Sibal said U.S. exports to India had gone up by 25 percent in 2003 to $4.8 billion since Washington relaxed exports of hi-tech items.

The U.S. was keen to give "widest possible access" to India to high technology and products within the framework of its laws, Juster remarked.
Source: IANS
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