Clinton seeks key defence accord in India talks

NEW DELHI, July 20, 2009 (AFP) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hoped to seal a defence pact boosting US arms sales to India in talks here Monday that should also see agreement on the siting of two US nuclear reactors. On the business end of her five-day visit to India, Clinton met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and was to meet later with Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna for talks aimed at deepening strategic US ties with an emerging player on the world stage.

Washington is especially hopeful of sealing a key accord on “end-use monitoring” that would provide safeguards for the sale of highly sophisticated US weaponry to India.

The agreement would be welcomed by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. who are both competing with Russian, French and Swedish companies for a massive 12 billion dollar tender to provide 126 fighter jets to the Indian Air Force.

Monday’s talks are also expected to see India announce the proposed sites for the building of two multi-billion dollar US nuclear power plants — the fruit of a landmark civilian nuclear deal India sealed with former US president George W. Bush last year.

“We’re very hopeful the Indians make the announcement on Monday,” one US official told AFP on t