U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is arriving in India to
discuss the U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement, which has received
approval in the U.S Congress. Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi,
India's communist parties, who oppose the deal, plan to hold protest
demonstrations during the visit.
Secretary Rice will hold
talks Saturday with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign
Minister Pranab Mukherjee on the civilian nuclear pact, which the U.S.
Congress approved this week.
The agreement ends a ban on sale
of civilian nuclear technology and equipment to New Delhi, which was
imposed in 1974 when India first conducted nuclear tests. India has not
signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
foreign secretary and former Indian ambassador to the United States
Lalit Mansingh says the pact represents a "big step forward" for India.
real significance lies in the fact that the entire key to unlocking the
three-and-a-half decades of technological isolation, these keys were in
the hands of the United States," he said. "So, finally, the U.S. has
come around to giving us the opening. Historically, it is very
significant. Americans who took the leadership in imposing sanctions on
India have finally helped India get out of it."
the pact will also enhance India's stature by allowing it to trade in
civilian nuclear commerce, while retaining its nuclear weapons. "On
the one hand, it enhances India's stature," he said. "On the other
hand, it recognizes India's enhanced stature. India is getting into the
higher league. India is going to be globally more active."
Secretary Rice hailed the agreement Thursday, before departing for
India. "It is an agreement that cements an effort that we've been
making for some time to bring together the world's largest democracy
with the world's oldest continuous democracy," she said. "And we
believe that the relationship between the United States and India is on
a very firm footing, and that can only be good for democracy and it can
only be good for the world."
Both India and Washington have been building closer ties in recent years.
Indian Communist parties continue to staunchly oppose the deal. They
say the government has surrendered the country's sovereignty to U.S.
imperialism, and plan to hold demonstrations on Saturday to protest the
agreement. The largest opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party,
also says the agreement is not in India's interests.
will effectively open a huge market worth billions of dollars to
companies from Western countries to build civilian nuclear reactors in
Earlier this week, India signed an atomic energy pact
with France during a visit by the Indian prime minister to Paris.
Companies from France, Russia and the United States are expected to be
on top of the list for engaging in nuclear commerce with India.