India, US to hold talks to bridge WTO differences

NEW YORK, Oct 26, 2006 (AFP) – India and the United States have agreed to meet in a bid to iron out differences over achieving a global trade accord, Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said Thursday.

The agreement was reached at a high level New York meeting between American and Indian government and private sector officials, he said.

Chief executives of conglomerates who attended the talks also agreed to devise a mechanism to launch a five billion dollar fund to finance Indian infrastructure projects with “minimum” government participation, Nath said.

The bid to kickstart the so-called Doha Round of talks among the World Trade Organisation (WTO) members was a “major issue” at the meeting, he said.

US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez raised the deadlocked issue at the talks while US Trade Representative Susan Schwab spoke to Nath separately.

“I said that we’d be happy to find ways of converging on our differences with the United States,” Nath said.

“India is happy to engage in a dialogue and so we plan that sometime in the third week of November, we’ll have a bilateral meet to move forward on this,” he said.

The “basic differe