Focus for allies is now on civil nuclear, space and other high-technology areas The United States no longer expects India to roll back its nuclear weapons programme, but instead recognises the opportunity for close strategic, military and intelligence co-operation between the two nations. 'No longer does the United States fixate on India's nuclear weapons and missile programme,' the outgoing US ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, said yesterday. 'No more constant American nagging nanny on these subjects, and no longer does the US largely view its relationship with India through a prism that must always include India's next-door neighbour,' he added, referring to Pakistan. Mr Blackwill, who played a key role in reshaping the US's view of India, said that now 'the Bush administration perceives India as a strategic opportunity for the United States, not as an irritating recalcitrant'. In a farewell address to the Confederation of Indian Industry, he said that until the policy change, the US saw India as 'a nuclear renegade to be brought to its senses so that its nuclear weapons programme could be rolled back'. But India was no longer viewed 'as an acute and abiding international proliferation risk that must be carefully managed and constantly lectured'. Clearly suggesting that the pressure on India to either sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or guarantee a ban on further nuclear tests was off, Mr Blackwill cited 'ongoing efforts' for collaboration in civil nuclear, space and other high-technology areas, even as the US advises India on how to tighten export controls on 'sensitive technologies'. All this became possible due to US President George W. Bush's decision to lift US sanctions imposed on India and Pakistan after the 1998 nuclear tests. 'US defence sales have gone from zero to US$200 million in the past 14 months, and we are poised for far more ambitious interaction in this field, including the possible Indian purchase of defensive nuclear, biological and chemical equipment, special forces gear, and P3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft,' he said. Mr Blackwill asserted that US-India relations 'will not be affected in the slightest' by India's decision not to send troops to Iraq. Applauding recent Indo-US military co-operation, he said the two nations were 'in the planning stages for a fighter aircraft exchange and that military initiatives would continue'.