US hopes to 'celebrate' progress on n-deal, defence contracts

Washington, Sep 25 (IANS) The White House Wednesday said it hoped to 'celebrate' progress on the landmark India-US deal and expanding defence ties between the two countries during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's third summit with President Barack Obama.

"We have seen encouraging signs" on the likelihood of signing a pre-early works agreement between Westinghouse and Nuclear Power Cooperation of India Ltd (NPCIL)," a senior administration official told Indian media in a conference call.

"The endeavour of the two countries has been to pave the way for the commercial contracts to go forward. "We certainly look forward to marking that progress and celebrating it," he said.

Manmohan Singh who arrives in Washington Thursday on a two-day working visit would meet the Obama at the White House Friday where the two leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues.

Besides, the nuclear deal, "some of the specific progress, we look forward to celebrating will be the defence trade relationship, expanding defence ties between India and the United States," the official said.

The two sides were "also making progress on expanding clean energy co-operation and the economic partnership," he said.

However, the concerns of "US government and its businesses about some of the Indian economic policies and the need for some additional economic reform to attract greater international investment," will "certainly be a centrepiece" of the discussion, the official said.

The issues raised are being discussed by the two governments and the two countries "are now working to expand the mechanism to address these issues," he said.

Noting that in "a complex relationship, and certainly in a strategic partnership there are always areas where there is room for more progress," the official said the India-US relationship is in "an active engagement stage" and US would like to keep it that way.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

Matches