India and U.S. discuss nuclear energy cooperation

Senior Indian and U.S. officials wrapped up four days of meetings Thursday aimed at establishing a foundation for cooperation in the civilian uses of nuclear energy, a U.S. Embassy press release said. The officials shared information on the global demand for nuclear energy, nuclear safety and research into areas such as fusion energy, it said.

"These discussions this week are an important step in establishing a foundation for cooperation on civil use of nuclear energy," said R. Shane Johnson, acting director of the U. S. Department of Energy's office of nuclear energy, science and technology. Johnson and R. B. Grover, director of India's strategic planning group of India's Department of Atomic Energy, led their respective delegations at the talks. The two sides will meet again in the United States later this year, it said, without giving a date.

The discussions followed a landmark agreement in July between India and the United States, which agreed to supply India with nuclear fuel, technology and equipment. In return, India pledged to strengthen its nuclear safeguards, allow international inspections and separate its civilian and nuclear military programs.

The agreement, which has to be ratified by the U.S. Congress, marked a major policy shift for the United States, which imposed sanctions on India in 1998 after it conducted nuclear tests. The restrictions have since been lifted. The U. S. delegation at the New Delhi talks included senior officials, as well as technical and policy experts from the U.S. Embassy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Nuclear Energy and Science Offices. With international oil prices rising, India is looking to other sources, including nuclear power, to fuel its booming economy, one of the fastest growing in the world, reports the AP. N.U.