Is Clinton's India Visit Paying Off For The U.S.?

Greenpeace Protest Sign i

Greenpeace protesters in New Delhi hold a banner calling on the U.S. to fight climate change. India has refused to agree to a cap on its emissions of greenhouse gases. Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images
Greenpeace Protest Sign

Greenpeace protesters in New Delhi hold a banner calling on the U.S. to fight climate change. India has refused to agree to a cap on its emissions of greenhouse gases.

Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton and Indian P.M. Singh i

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Monday. The two concluded deals on U.S. arms sales and nuclear reactors. Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton and Indian P.M. Singh

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Monday. The two concluded deals on U.S. arms sales and nuclear reactors.

Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was rebuffed by India on climate change issues, but she finalized agreements Monday that will clear the way for American companies to sell arms to India and build nuclear power plants there.

Some analysts say the Indians got what they wanted from the exchange, without giving much ground on issues such as climate change.

In a joint appearance, Clinton and Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna announced that India has designated two sites where U.S. companies would have exclusive rights to develop nuclear power plants. That concession could be worth as much as $10 billion to U.S. manufacturers.

Clinton and Krishna also announced an agreement that would allow the U.S. to monitor how India uses any military hardware or technology sold to it by the United States. The deal was needed before U.S. defense contractors could sell certain items to India, trade that could be worth as much as $30 billion.

U.S. Arms For An Indian Military Buildup

Zia Mian, a professor at Princeton University, says the arms deal comes as India is in the middle of a massive military buildup. "It goes way beyond just modernizing what they already had, in that India now sees itself as a world power," Mian says. "Every U.S. and European military contractor is lining up to sell them weapons."

On climate change, Evan Feigenbaum, a deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia during the Bush administration, says officials didn't expect to win India over to the proposition that it needs to accept a cap on polluting emissions.

Feigenbaum, now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, says it is important for the U.S. to show that it can manage disagreements with India in a productive way. He says the two nations can demonstrate that they can work together on some aspects of climate change, even if they don't agree on major issues.

In the joint statement issued by the U.S. and India after the talks, Clinton and Krishna appeared to be aiming for that. The statement said the two sides had agreed to collaborate on "transformative and innovative technologies ... including solar and other renewable energy, clean coal and energy efficiency."

Mian says India has a point in refusing to cap its pollution emissions.

"The U.S. has much greater leeway in reducing domestic emissions. Increasing efficiency here would reduce [worldwide] pollution by more than all of India's emissions for the next several years."

Mian says the Indians have indicated they would be happy to work with U.S. companies on developing energy technologies. "The U.S. needs to develop these technologies for itself, anyway. Why not say we'll make an investment in research into low-cost energy production in India?"

Beyond Counterterrorism

One key item on the bilateral agenda with India is counterterrorism. In the joint statement, the two countries reaffirmed their commitment to cooperating against terrorism, and Clinton urged India to cooperate with its rival, Pakistan, to fight terrorist groups.

But Mian says he thinks the U.S. should urge India to engage with Pakistan in other areas, including trade. He says people in the two countries need to see the benefits of cooperation in other ways, if tensions are to be reduced.

Mian says he believes the U.S. sees the biggest role for India as a balance for the rising power of China in Asia, and as an ally in dealing with Pakistan if that nuclear-armed nation were to fall apart.

Feigenbaum says he thinks the U.S. needs to look at a more global partnership with India, to work with India on resolving problems in areas where its influence has been growing, such as Africa, the Persian Gulf and East Asia.

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