Describing the three-day visit as "one of our most important diplomatic engagements in recent times", Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said cooperation in key areas of defence, security, counter- terrorism and the situation in India's extended neighbourhood would be among the issues to be discussed between Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
    
Asked about the differences between the two sides on the nuclear deal, he said, "Our negotiators are working together in a collaborative manner in London. This is the third time the Contact Group, which was set up by the Prime Minister and the US President, is meeting in last nearly 45 days. One can see the element of effort going in the discussion on the nuclear issue, which is an extremely important issue..."

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He said under the nuclear "rubric", the Group was discussing administrative arrangements, how to actualise India's quest for membership of Nuclear Supplier's Group and also issues related to clarification and understanding of our nuclear liability regime.
    
"What is being discussed is how within the four walls of our legal framework, our legislation, we can provide assurance to our partners in the US and any concerns that they may have either through their vendors or lawyers that is the discussion that is taking place right now in London," the Spokesperson said.
    
Noting that "progress has been made" during the previous negotiations, the Spokesperson said, India was looking forward to "effectively" work with the US in the "extremely important" nuclear field.

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The Indian liability law holds the suppliers directly liable in case of a nuclear accident while countries like France and the US have asked India to follow global norms under which the primary liability is with the operator.
    
Since all the nuclear power plants in the country are run by the government-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, following international norms will mean the government would have to pay for the damages in case of an accident.

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Another contentious clause in the liability law was unlimited liability for which international companies will find it difficult to get insurers.
    
The two sides are working hard to have "excellent" outcomes during the visit of Obama, who will have a tight schedule including talks with Modi, attending Republic Day parade as the Chief Guest, meeting with business leaders, joint radio talk with Modi and a quick visit to Agra to see the iconic Taj Mahal.

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