US, India officials to discuss civil nuclear trade

A top US diplomat says a path could be cleared for shipments of US civilian nuclear fuel and technology to India by the end of the year. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, with Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon by his side, said Thursday that he probably will travel to India in a couple of weeks to discuss an overall cooperation agreement the two sides are still negotiating. "The big issues have been decided," Burns told an audience at the Carnegie Endowment think tank. Menon said, "Our job now is the technical job of actually expressing it in legal terms." President George W. Bush signed late last year an exception to US law to allow US-Indian civilian nuclear cooperation. But several obstacles block nuclear trade, including US congressional approval of the overall cooperation agreement, and a safeguard agreement between India and the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.