Mumbai (IANS): The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday said she was “optimistic” about concluding a defence pact that will enable the US to monitor the end use of the arms and sensitive technologies sold to India and ensure that they are not diverted to other countries.
“We are working very hard to finalise a number of agreements. I am optimistic that we will get such agreements resolved and announced,” Ms. Clinton told reporters here when asked about the status of the arms ‘end-user monitoring’ pact.
The end-user verification agreement is likely to be signed between the two sides after Ms. Clinton holds talks with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna in New Delhi Monday.
The draft of the text is now down to differences over “one or two words”, a reliable source said.
A technology safeguards agreement (TSA) on space launches and another pact on deepening education ties are also expected to be signed during Clinton’s visit.
India is also likely to announce two sites for US nuclear reactors during her visit, official sources said.
The visit will focus on ushering in Phase III of the strategic partnership, which Ms. Clinton recently described as “3.0 version”.
The end-user agreement, mandatory under a US law to sell sophisticated arms to other countries, will remove a major obstacle in accelerating defence ties between India and the US.
The pact will set the pitch for US firms to bid for India’s tender for purchasing 126 multi-role fighters that is estimated to be worth $10.4 billion.
Major US defence companies like Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co. are eyeing a pie of India’s lucrative defence market.
Ahead of Ms. Clinton’s visit, the US said it looked at an end-use monitoring agreement as “part of the fulfilment” of their “important” civil nuclear deal.
“We are working with India on an end-use agreement (for sensitive US technology and equipment),” Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley told reporters Friday in Washington.
“But clearly, this is part of the fulfilment of an important initiative that India and the United States have signed in the area of nuclear cooperation,” Mr. Crowley said.