Biden Trip to India Includes Focus on Atomic Trade Deal

National Journal

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was slated to arrive in New Delhi on Monday for talks with top-level Indian officials aimed at solidifying bilateral strategic relations and spurring implementation of a landmark 2008 atomic cooperation deal, the Times of India reported, citing a high-ranking U.S. official.

''The vice president will set up an ambitious agenda for U.S.-India cooperation, not just for years ahead but decades ahead,'' the unidentified Obama administration official said.

Five years after Washington agreed to permit the export of U.S. nuclear materials and technology to the growing South Asian nation, the bilateral civilian nuclear trade deal has yet to be implemented. Concerns by U.S. firms that domestic Indian regulations place too much liability on international exporters of nuclear technology in the event of an atomic reactor accident have stymied the trade accord from being carried out.

The nuclear deal will be “firmly in [Biden’s] crosshairs" when he visits India for four days this week, an unidentified U.S. official was quoted by The Hindu newspaper as saying. The U.S. side will reassert its view that it considers the liability issue a hurdle to implementation of the agreement.

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