India's PM Singh says assured by U.S. on Pakistan

WASHINGTON Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:43pm EST

President Barack Obama (R) and first lady Michelle Obama (2nd L) stand with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2nd R) and his wife Gursharan Kaur before a state dinner at the White House November 24, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed

President Barack Obama (R) and first lady Michelle Obama (2nd L) stand with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2nd R) and his wife Gursharan Kaur before a state dinner at the White House November 24, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday he was assured that U.S. influence on Pakistan would help prod Islamabad to crack down on militants who target India.

Singh said his talks with President Barack Obama on Tuesday produced agreements that the two powers would work together on a number of issues including counter-terrorism.

"I'll go back to India convinced that India and the United States can and will do lots of things together to strengthen our strategic partnership in economics, in trade, in climate change, in energy, in counter-terrorism and all related activities," he told a news conference.

Asked whether he had persuaded the United States to use its clout with its ally Pakistan to crack down on Islamic militants who direct attacks at India, Singh said "I have been assured that U.S. influence will work in (that) direction."

The Indian leader's four-day visit to Washington aimed at boosting ties with the United States ended on the eve of the anniversary of last year's attack on the Indian city of Mumbai which killed 166 people.

Singh said in a statement to bereaved families of the attack that India "will not rest until we've brought the perpetrators of this horrible crime to justice."

Washington and New Delhi want Islamabad to do more to counter growing Islamic militancy. India wants Pakistan to crack down on militants operating in disputed Kashmir, while the United States wants it to root out Taliban fighters to help end an insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan.

BOTH SIDES COURT CHINA

Singh said he and Obama also discussed China, which has a long-running border dispute with India, but the Indian leader played down talk of rivalry with the Chinese.

"I said to the president that, like other countries, we welcome the peaceful rise of China. We also are engaged with China," he said, describing Beijing as a major trade partner.

Singh said he told Obama that China had been increasingly assertive on the border dispute recently. But he added that India had not sought U.S. help in defusing the row and hoped that it could be resolved in talks with China.

He said there were no major blocks to implementing a civil nuclear cooperation agreement he signed with former U.S. President George W. Bush intended to end a nuclear isolation imposed on India after it tested an atom bomb in 1974.

"There are no insurmountable barriers and I am confident that in the next couple of weeks we can sort out these," Singh said of a deal that would open up India's potential $150 billion market in power plants to U.S. businesses.

India's parliament has to debate a new law to limit U.S. firms' liability in case of a nuclear accident, but Singh said his cabinet had approved it and was ready to take to the assembly.

The United States, which still has not signed a nuclear fuel reprocessing agreement with India, had given assurances it was serious about completing that process, Singh said.

(Editing by David Storey)

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