Indo-US ties go beyond the n-deal, says MEA website


New Delhi : As the nuclear deal goes down to the wire awaiting final nod from the US Congress, the Ministry of External Affairs updated its official website to tell people that Indo-US relations went much beyond the much talked about atomic agreement.

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The July 18, 2005 Joint Statement signed in Washington by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush is known in India mainly for the 123 civil nuclear cooperation pact being assiduously negotiated between the two countries.

But the 17-page background note titled ‘ Fact sheet on various aspects of Indo-US bilateral relations’ on its website ( pointed out that the Joint Statement also included a number of other areas where the two sides have been working closely with each other.

These areas include agriculture, water management, biotechnology, human resource and capacity building, defence, energy, high technology, civil aviation, economy, health and education.

There is no official reason given as to why the background note was put up now. “We wanted to tell people about the various aspects of the Indo-US bilateral relations and that is not limited to the nuclear cooperation,” a ministry official told IANS.

The 123 agreement is now before the US Congress and needs an approval from both the Senate and the House of Representatives. But the current session of the Congress is till September 26-(Saturday India-time), before its schedule to break for the November presidential elections.

The Indian MEA website has different categories to inform people about the latest developments on India’s foreign policy by putting out statements, interviews and profile of different countries and India’s bilateral relations with them.

Interestingly, the country profile of US and aspects of its bilateral ties with India had not been updated for some time. The lengthy background note was added to it Friday afternoon.

“It was oversight on our part and has nothing to do with the developments in the US,” the official insisted. But the background note and the information from the MEA that it was there has sparked off speculation whether it was an attempt to draw the focus on the larger aspect of the bilateral relations in the event the US Congress fails to approve the 123 civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

The nuclear deal between the two countries will perhaps be seen as the biggest feather in Indo-US relations, but both sides have steadily been bringing in new areas for cooperation to strengthen their strategic ties.

The MEA fact sheet gives details of these areas where the two sides have been closely working with each other to contribute to the overall strengthening of Indo-US ties.