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Home > News > Report

Nuclear deal is in US interest: Biden

Suman Mozumder in New York | April 29, 2006 13:20 IST

Senator Joseph R Biden (D-Delaware), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Friday suggested that helping India to meet its growing energy needs will be in the interest of the United States.

Without mentioning even once the India-United States agreement on the civilian nuclear cooperation that needs Congressional approval before ratification, the former chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that India's energy needs presents an opportunity for the United States.

Indo-US Nuclear Tango

"In 1960s the US helped bring the Green Revolution in India. American agricultural developments helped India feed its people. That was good for India and that was also good for American business. Now India faces a burgeoning need for energy, and so too, I believe, presents an opportunity for the US."

Biden made the remarks while delivering the keynote address this evening at a conference titled "Cities in a World of Migration: India and China in Global Perspective,' organised by the New School University in New York. Many among the 100-odd people in the audience included Indian and Chinese academics as well as independent scholars.

"What if this government actually engages and attempts to seek energy independence and alternative sources of energy other than fossil fuels? What if we actually took the ingenuity of the business community and the scientific community with the help of government as a partner to make a firm commitment to energy independence by the year 2020. What if all of that technology became as much of an export commodity as oil is from the sands of Saudi Arabia today," Biden asked.

"I think there are many economially viable ways to move beyond fossil fuels. In the meantime, what if we develop more clean cole technology to be able to help India and China to meet their overwhelming energy needs because they have overwhelming amounts of fossil fuels in the form of cole," Biden said.

"Why shouldn't we treat all these as cause for optimism and not listen to those, the same voices' that one used to hear during the Cold War period, he asked.

During the April 5 appearance of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to push for the nuclear deal, Biden, in his introductory remarks, said that he was "…probably going to support" the India-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. Although he did not say that in as many words on Friday, Biden clearly seemed to indicate his support for the agreement.

At the outset of his keynote, Biden admitted that although he has been invited to speak about migration in India and China, he has not specific expertise on the subject and would like to talk a bit about United States' relationship with the two countries before touching on the main theme.

"It is hard for me spending so much time in the Senate Foreign relations Committee not discuss the strategic relationship with the two countries that I believe will shape the future of our children and grandchildren more than any other country in the world. So, let me start with that," Biden said.

The Senator said that when one talks about India and China, one usually talks about their incredible economic competition and sometimes about possible military competition. But Biden felt what one forgets often that much as these two countries are rising powers, they also have rising problems.

Biden said that meeting the economic and political demands of the Chinese people is going to require a massive investment in housing, public health, energy, education and public administration. "Each of these investments in my view will represent a significant opportunity for the US. For we are the world leaders in each of those areas," he said.

"The point I am trying to make here is we should not look at the growth of India and China with dread. We should look at it as a genuine opportunity for world stability and economic gain and access for the United States of America," Biden said.

"We should not fear the competition, for the global economy is based upon competition and we should recognize the economic and political challenges of China and India are also a real opportunity for the United States."

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