In the recent past, some American experts have expressed doubts about how collaborative India would be, especially on the issue of nuclear power. But in the last fortnight, those doubts were allayed when Westinghouse announced a preliminary agreement with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India on setting up a nuclear power project to generate electricity, in Gujarat State.
Secretary Clinton hailed the accord as “a significant step toward the fulfillment” of the landmark 2008 nuclear agreement between the U.S. and India. We agree, and would add that there was a lot more progress to highlight in other realms, too.
Minister Krishna emphasized that the U.S. and India will continue to make progress and work in tandem on many issues especially in trade and business. On trade, the two leaders announced that they would work toward completing a bilateral treaty that would boost investment and trade between the U.S. and India. Cooperation on defense-related matters, maritime and Internet security, counter terrorism and trade would also be taken forward.
Another major area of common purpose concerned Afghanistan. Mrs. Clinton publicly thanked India for its steady contributions – totaling $2 billion since 2001 – for the welfare and development of the Afghan people.
The U.S. and India have been working separately to find ways to ensure Afghanistan’s long-term peace and stability. Today, the path is open for closer coordination as India and the U.S. now plan to work together -- along with Afghanistan -- to promote improvements in Afghan farming, mining, energy and infrastructure.
This new, trilateral effort is yet another demonstration of the like-mindedness of the U.S. and India on security issues and their joint determination to do even more to prevent the spread of worldwide terrorism.
Secretary Clinton and Minister Krishna acknowledged broad collaboration on a range of bilateral climate change related programs, including those aimed at addressing adaptation to climate change, sustainable management of forests including reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, the U.S.-India task force on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and our respective domestic research programs in the area of black carbon.
In particular, they agreed that their governments would regularly consult about the future of oil and natural gas markets and try to expand sustainable energy sources.
These endeavors would include, but would not be limited to, collaborating on research on renewable energy sources and increasing U.S. exports of clean energy technology to India. The goal: Finding ways to ensure access to reliable and affordable energy supplies.
In particular, India was pleased with the prospects of cooperation to learn best practices for environmental protection and better regulation of natural gas exploration and extraction from the State Department’s Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program. We see natural gas as an important bridge to a cleaner fuel future, especially as India prepares next year to begin shale gas exploration.
The U.S. and India clearly have more in common than a love of democracy. We also share economic, diplomatic and security goals. These many mutual interests have brought our nations – and our peoples – closer than ever.
Rao is India’s Ambassador to the United States.