Monday, 20 July 2009

Clinton finds progress and frustration in India

In her first visit to India as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is close to a major agreement on defense cooperation but made less progress on emissions goals.

The defense agreement -- which is expected to be signed later today -- is known as an "end-use monitoring" agreement and would allow to verify how weapons sold to India is being used, a precaution that could pave the way for new weapons sales by U.S. contractors. Both Boeing and Lockheed are competing to supply India with 126 fighter jets as it modernizes its arsenal. The deal has not yet been finalized, but a U.S. official said it would be a "definite slap in the face" if it is not completed.

Tensions between the two powers were also on display during Clinton's visit. As the secretary toured a new energy-efficient office building, India's environmental minister Jairam Ramesh criticized the U.S. for pushing for more greenhouse gas reductions, when India already has extremely low levels of per-capita emissions. “We are simply not in a position to take over legally binding emission reduction targets,” said Ramesh. Nonetheless, the minister said India is committed to reaching a new global emissions agreement in Copenhagen this year.

Under the radar: An EU report says the union's poorest member state, Bulgaria, is at serious risk of falling under Russian influence unless it can more effectively combat corruption.

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