U.S., India strengthen strategic ties

The United States and India said Monday they are committed to constructing a strategic partnership for the 21st century, while also concluding deals on defense and civil nuclear energy that could result in billions of dollars for U.S. companies.

''External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today committed to building an enhanced India-U.S. strategic partnership that seeks to advance solutions to the defining challenges of our time,'' a joint statement said, which was released after a day of high-level talks in New Delhi.

The bilateral meeting focused on topics ranging from defense cooperation, civilian nuclear cooperation, global institutions, education, space, high-technology cooperation, the environment and climate change.

''Recognizing the new heights achieved in the India-U.S. relationship over the last two Indian and U.S. administrations, they committed to pursuing a third and transformative phase of the relationship that will enhance global prosperity and stability in the 21st century,'' the statement said.

The joint statement announced that the United States and India will hold an annual strategic dialogue on global, regional and bilateral issues, a sign of the increasing cooperation between the two countries.

The first meeting is expected in Washington in the coming year, the statement said.

Clinton and Krishna also finalized agreements that will lead to increased U.S. defense and nuclear sales to India. An ''end-use monitoring'' agreement, the centerpiece of Clinton's trip to India, clears the way for India to buy defense-related items from the United States, which requires that the use of sophisticated weapons be monitored by Washington to ensure the technology is not leaked.

India also pledged to designate two nuclear energy sites in India for exclusive development by U.S. companies, a deal worth billions of dollars.

The deals reached Monday were the result of efforts by the United States and India to strengthen bilateral ties, especially during the former administration of President George W. Bush.

Last year the United States and India signed an agreement on civil nuclear energy which paved the way for India to receive nuclear technology and know-how from member countries of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, including the United States.

(Distributed by Kyodo News on July 21, 2009)