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U.S. and Indian officials meet at critical point in nuclear talks

U.S. and Indian officials meet at critical point in nuclear talks

India's foreign secretary was meeting Monday with U.S. officials at a critical point in a U.S.-Indian plan to share civilian nuclear technology.
Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns meet Monday and Tuesday for technical negotiations about an agreement U.S. officials have portrayed as a way to transform a strategic relationship with a rising, democratic power in Asia.
U.S. officials have recently voiced frustration with the pace of talks, however.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack portrayed the meetings this week as a way to determine how quickly a deal can get done.
"We would like to move rapidly and conclude this deal, and we'll see what kind of ideas the Indian government comes to the table with," he said. "We will get this deal done."
Indian officials have acknowledged hurdles in talks.
Some in India fear the deal could limit India's right to reprocess spent atomic fuel and employ other sensitive nuclear technologies.
President George W. Bush signed late last year an exception to U.S. law to allow the shipment of civilian nuclear fuel to India.
Several obstacles block nuclear trade, however, including current negotiations on an overall cooperation agreement.
If ratified, U.S. civilian nuclear trade with India would be permitted in exchange for safeguards and U.N. inspections at India's 14 civilian nuclear plants. Eight military plants would be off-limits.
Critics say the measure would spark a nuclear arms race in Asia by boosting India's atomic arsenal.