Subscribe to updates

Monday, July 20, 2009

US and India agree defence pact

India and the United States have agreed a defence pact which will boost the sale of sophisticated American weaponry to Delhi.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, on a visit to India, said the two sides had agreed an "end-use monitoring" accord.

This aims to help the US ensure that its military technology is not transferred to other countries.

Mrs Clinton also held talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

During Monday's meeting, Mr Singh accepted an invitation from Mrs Clinton to visit the US in November, officials said.

The end-use monitoring agreement was announced in a joint news conference between Mrs Clinton and the Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna.

End-use agreements are required under US law for weapons sales.

India is seeking to buy fighter aircraft and nuclear reactors - deals that are expected to generate multi-billion dollar contracts, for which several US companies are bidding.

India also announced on Monday that it had approved sites where American companies will build two nuclear power plants.

It is part of a civilian nuclear deal signed by the US and India last year.

Mrs Clinton is spending three full days in India. She departs on Tuesday.

Correspondents say Mrs Clinton's visit aims to show the US is committed to broadening its ties with Delhi.

Addressing students at Delhi University ahead of the talks, Mrs Clinton said the US wanted to "deepen our strategic understanding" with India and find more common ground.

Mrs Clinton also held talks with the leader of the opposition, Lal Krishna Advani.

India's relations with neighbouring Pakistan were also expected to feature prominently in discussions.

Our correspondent says that publicly Mrs Clinton has insisted that what Pakistan and India do is completely up to them.

But he says everyone in Delhi is clear it was pressure from Washington that pushed the countries to hold talks in Egypt last week.

Pakistan-India relations dominated Mrs Clinton's visit to Mumbai on Saturday, in the wake of attacks on the city last November that left more than 170 people dead.

On Sunday, talks in Delhi focused on climate change, which remains a sensitive subject for developing countries such as India and China, which have so far refused to commit to carbon emissions cuts in a new treaty.

Mrs Clinton also sought to assure India the US would not try to impose conditions that might affect India's economic growth.

But Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said his government could not accept targets that would limit economic growth.

India argues the US must do more as it has been historically to blame for the emissions.

Mrs Clinton later told reporters she was optimistic a deal on climate change could be reached.

The key date for climate change is December - when a summit in Copenhagen will look to forge a new international treaty that will replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Clinton: US Doing All It Can to Free Captured Soldier

The U.S. is doing everything in its power to locate and free an American soldier captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday.

Private Bowe Bergdahl -- who disappeared earlier this month from his base in southeastern Paktika province -- appeared in a video posted to the Internet Saturday. The 23-year-old Idahoan, who appeared nervous and frightened, is prompted in English by his captors to call on the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

"We are attempting to do everything we can to locate him and free him," Clinton said in an interview aired Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"It's just outrageous," she said. "It's a real sign of desperation and inappropriate criminal behavior on the parts of these terrorist groups, so we are going to do everything we can to get him."

U.S. officials have said they believe Bergdahl was captured by the same group responsible for kidnapping New York Times reporter David Rohde, who escaped in July after being held seven months by the Taliban.

In the 28-minute video posted Saturday, Bergdahl confirms his name and hometown. The Pentagon confirmed his identity Sunday -- nearly three weeks after he disappeared.

Bergdahl, who is seen in the video with a shaved head, choked back tears as he tells his captors he wants to see his family.

"I'm afraid that I might never see them again and that I'll never be able to tell them that I love them again, I'll never be able to hug them," Bergdahl says. "I'm scared...scared about not being able to go home. It's very unnerving to be a prisoner."

On July 2, two U.S. officials conceded a soldier had "just walked off" his base near the border with Pakistan with three Afghans after his shift, but wouldn't release details. Four days later, the Taliban claimed "a drunken American soldier had come out of his garrison" and was captured by mujahedeen.

The U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement Sunday that Bergdahl -- a member of an infantry division based Fort Richardson, Alaska -- was officially declared "Missing-Captured" on July 3.

Back home in Idaho, Bergdahl's parents say they are overwhelmed by the recent outpouring of support from neighbors in their small community and abroad.

Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling read a statement issued by the family Monday, thanking supporters for their concern. Neighbors and others in the community about 10 miles south of Sun Valley have known for weeks that Bergdahl had been captured.

The governor, along with Idaho's congressional delegation, said Sunday he only learned of Bergdahl's captivity days earlier, but opted to keep the soldier's name quiet until it was officially released.

FOX News' Jennifer Griffin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.