Eyeing India’s nuclear pie, Britain goes on damage controlJanuary 19th, 2009 - 4:59 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) Days after the British foreign secretary’s remarks linking terrorism with Jammu and Kashmir sparked a row here, Britain, eager to do nuclear business with India, Monday sought to downplay the “diplomatic spat” and urged New Delhi to judge it by action and not words.“We can’t allow diplomatic spat of any kind to stand in the way of combating terrorism and flushing out terrorists,” British Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Peter Mandelson said here at a meeting aimed at exploring nuclear business collaboration between India and Britain.
“The British government stands absolutely with India to bring terrorists to trial and justice. You can judge us by action and not merely words,” Mandelson said.
“We are going to be with India all the way to combat terrorist activities and terrorists wherever they are and however mighty they be,” said Mandelson, who is visiting India with a team of nearly 100 top business leaders, including top executives associated with nuclear industry.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai Jan 15 that Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT), widely suspected of masterminding the Nov 26 carnage, had a cause in Kashmir.
In an article published in a British daily the same day, Miliband argued that the unresolved Kashmir issue provided “the chief call to arms” to terrorists in the region and sought to delink terrorism targeting India from terrorism in other regions of the world.
Peeved at this, New Delhi snubbed London saying it did not need “unsolicited advice” on its internal affairs. The opposition parties also flayed Miliband’s remarks with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) calling his visit “a diplomatic disaster”.
After making placatory remarks, Mandelson, who, along with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his predecessor Tony Blair, is regarded as a key architect of the New Labour in Britain, moved on to nuclear business.
Making a vigorous pitch for expanding civil nuclear business with India, Mandelson welcomed the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s (NSG) decision to open nuclear trade with New Delhi and presented Britain as a hub of a new nuclear renaissance.
“The UK nuclear industry can provide 70-80 percent of a new nuclear reactor. The civil nuclear industry employs 80,000 people and the UK exports nuclear goods and equipment worth 700 million pounds,” he said.
Mandelson also announced that the two countries are working on an India-UK nuclear cooperation declaration.
The declaration may be signed later this year, reliable sources told IANS.
Top executives of leading British nuclear companies like Rolls-Royce, AMEC, ANTEC, Centronic and Lloyd Register Group are accompanying Mandelson on the five-day visit to India.
Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh, who was co-chairing the meeting between nuclear executives and officials of the two sides, underlined vast opportunities for partnership in the softer side of the nuclear industry like safety, consultancy and technical manpower training.
Jairam sought Britain’s help in training the next generation of personnel in the Indian nuclear industry and indicated possibilities of collaboration between British and Indian universities in this area.
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