India’s contact with Nuclear Suppliers Group is ongoing, decision to go to IAEA awaited: Menon

July 4th, 2008 - 10:29 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 4 (ANI): India’s Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said on Friday that the government’s talks with the Nuclear Suppliers Group is ongoing, and added that when a decision is made to approach the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for an India-specific safeguards regime with reference to the US-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement, it would be announced.
Briefing the media about the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s impending three-day visit to Japan to attend the Group of Eight Summit deliberations in both Sapporo and Hokkaido, Menon said:” We have been in touch with all the countries. We have spoken to the NSG as well. At previous meetings of the NSG, we have been in contact with them and that would continue. As soon as we have a decision on going to the IAEA Board of Governors, I will let you know.”
When asked specifically to comment on American Congressman Gary Ackerman’s doubts regarding the progress of the US-India nuclear deal through the U.S. Congress, Menon said that the question of setting an exact date or timeframe for the operationalisation of the deal was not possible at this point in time.
“Frankly, I have always avoided all your questions, you all know this, about what is the timeframe, which day will this happen, which day will that happen. I do not want to get into that. We want to go ahead with it. We will do our best to go ahead with it as soon as we can,” Menon said.
His response came days after Ackerman had expressed his doubts over getting the approval of the U.S. Congress for the 123 Agreement, the final step towards operationalising the nuclear deal before the end of the term of the George W Bush administration.
Ackerman’s comments that time was running out ahead of U.S. congressional and presidential elections in November and the inauguration of Bush’s successor in January were the most explicit of a series of statements by lawmakers and officials.
The pact, which gives India access to U.S. nuclear fuel and technology, is potentially worth billions of dollars to U.S. and European nuclear supplier companies and would give India more energy alternatives to drive a booming, trillion-dollar economy.
When he was asked as to what was the status of negotiations on Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, he said: “We continue our discussions both with Iran and with Pakistan and it is mentioned each time. I think from our point of view, the purpose of the discussions is to ensure that we have a project which is economically and commercially viable, where supplies are assured and where security of the project is also guaranteed. That is what we are trying to do in the process of discussing it both with Pakistan and with Iran bilaterally and also trilaterally. We have had both kinds of meetings because these are issues which we will all have to solve together.
Regarding the Prime Minister’s visit to Japan, Menon said that the Indian delegation would leave on the morning of July 7, and would spend the 8th in Sapporo in Okaido in the north of Japan.
He said that the Prime Minister would have several bilateral meetings in Sapporo. A summit of the five Outreach Countries of India, China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa woud also be held on the afternoon of July 8, he added.
“The next day is really the outreach day with the G-8 in Toyako, which is slightly away in Okaido in Japan which begins very early in the morning with a working meeting over breakfast between the O-5, who I just mentioned, and the G-8, where they will review the Heiligendamm process which was started at the last Summit. That will be followed by a meeting of the G-8 with the O-5 and three additional Outreach Countries Republic of Korea, Australia and Indonesia. Primarily, it is the same group as the major economies meeting which has been discussing climate change and energy security for the last year. But it will be the first meeting at leadership level of these countries and they will be considering climate change issues and energy security issues,” the Foreign Secretary said.
This would be followed by a working lunch, again with the same sixteen countries, which is expected to cover broader issues of the world economy and so on. Through these two days, both on the 8th and on the 9th, Prime Minister will also be having a series of bilateral meetings with other leaders.
On the multilateral side, the Summit of the O-5 leaders is really the second such Summit, the first being held in Berlin last year.
He said that the subsequent working meeting on July 9 between the G-8 and the O-5 would essentially be a mid-term review of the Heiligendamm process.
“This was a process where for the first time there was a structured dialogue between the O-5 and the G-8 members. It has held several meetings on four subjects. One is innovation which is critical for us in terms of technology transfer, in terms of upgrading our economies; the other is energy efficiency which is important to us both in terms of environmental affects and also in terms of energy security, in both senses that is a very important issue for us; the third is development and the achievement of MDGs. These two are linked,” he added.
Commenting on the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change, or the MEM Summit, he said that this is the first time a summit of this nature was being held, and should be seen as an attempt to encourage the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) process.
“Our approach to climate change has been that primarily we have an agreed framework within which the international community should address the climate change issues. That was agreed starting at Rio, subsequently in the Kyoto Protocol, and most recently in Bali where we agreed on an Action Plan on how we would try and deal with climate change issues over the next few years and how we would negotiate an outcome to come out of the Copenhagen Summit in 2009. So, there are major issues involved including the issues of a long-term goal of technology and how it should be transferred, financing, both mitigation and adaptation activities, and on mid-term plans and goals on how to push this process forward,” Menon said
“The MEM meeting actually includes sixteen economies who among themselves represent a major part of the global economy and, therefore, have the capacity to push this discussion forward. But we see this as primarily an assistance to what we are trying to do under the UNFCC parties negotiations in the UN framework. We hope that as a result of this it will be possible for many of not only our ideas but common interests that we have with the others to be implemented on climate change,” he added.
He said that within the last few weeks, India has issued its own National Action Plan for dealing with climate change.
“We have identified eight missions which we think are critical to our own future and how we will deal with climate change. We would like to see an international environment and an international framework which is supportive of that effort naturally, and we will work with others. We have also made it clear, as Prime Minister said last year in Heiligendamm, that our per capita greenhouse gas emissions will not exceed those of the developed countries. This is in a sense a double challenge. It is a challenge to us naturally to find sustainable ways of development. It is also a challenge to the developed countries to bring down their emissions to levels which are sustainable, because they are not today, and to start implementing their prior commitments,” he added.
Commenting on the working lunch between the Outreach members and the G-8, he said that the main issue would be the state of the world economy.
“The expectation is that the leaders will exchange ideas on how they should deal with the situation; how they see the economy growing and what they think can be done collectively to address these issues which worry us all,” he said.
“On the bilateral meetings, we are still in the process of firming them up. But the ones that we have already scheduled are with the Presidents of China, of Russia, of the USA, of Mexico, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, the Japanese Prime Minister, the Australian Prime Minister. There will be also a brief informal meeting of the BRIC leaders just after the lunch together. There will be meetings also with some of the others. The UN Secretary-General will be there for instance. Our PM will probably meet him. There might be other pull-asides. There are other meetings we are trying to schedule, but it is a very tight programme,” Menon concluded. (ANI)

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