Clinton upbeat on climate change talks with India
(Corrects name of minister throughout to Ramesh, not Rajesh)
By Arshad Mohammed
GURGAON, India, July 19 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sounded optimistic on Sunday that the United States and India can bridge their differences on reducing greenhouse gases.
However, a senior Indian official repeated his government's view that it cannot accept legally binding targets for cutting carbon emissions that cause climate change.
Speaking at an award-winning "green" building outside New Delhi, Clinton told reporters she had had productive talks with Jairam Ramesh, India's minister of state for environment and forestry.
"We had a very fruitful discussion today," Clinton told reporters. "We are not sitting down and writing the framework but we have many more areas of agreement than perhaps had been appreciated."
"There are some specific recommendations which he has made today which are very promising," she added. "I am very heartened by our capacity to work (together)."
Ramesh bristled at a suggestion India was unwilling to find ways to curb its carbon emissions, saying it was doing so but could not commit to mandatory targets.
"It is not true that India is running away from mitigation," Ramesh said at a joint news conference. "We are simply not in a position to take on legally binding emissions (reduction) targets."
The United States wants India to agree to limit its carbon emissions ahead of the signing of a new U.N. climate treaty in Copenhagen in December. There, more than 190 nations will try to set emission cuts targets to 2020.
India says rich nations are most to blame for climate change and should make deeper cuts before asking others to do so.
It is reluctant to put any brakes on industry, to ensure its economy keeps up growth estimated at 7 percent this year with an eye to returning to 9 percent.
While Clinton's official talks on Monday will cover such issues as defence sales, nonproliferation and civil nuclear power, Clinton made climate change her first priority in the Indian capital.
The top U.S. diplomat drove straight from the airport to an office building built by India's ITC conglomerate which has been granted an award for energy efficiency and environmental design.
The red brick building maximizes natural light and its glass lets in light but not heat, which respectively reduce the need for artificial light and air-conditioning.
On Monday Clinton meets Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.
U.S. officials hope to sign a pact to ensure that U.S. arms technology sold to India is used for its intended purposes and does not leak to third countries, a step required by U.S. law.
Such a pact would allow U.S. firms to compete for India's plan to buy 126 multi-role fighters, which would be one of the largest arms deals in the world and could be a boon to Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Boeing Co (BA.N).
The United States also hopes India will announce that it has reserved two sites for U.S. companies to build nuclear power plants, which could be worth as much as $10 billion in business for American firms.
And they want to establish a "strategic dialogue" between the two countries to be led by Clinton and Krishna, reflecting U.S. President Barack Obama's desire to strengthen ties with India. (Editing by Bryson Hull and Richard Balmforth)
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