India hopeful of global nuclear cooperation: President

February 25th, 2008 - 3:54 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) India is ready to resume dialogue with Pakistan and is hopeful of achieving civil nuclear cooperation with the US and other friendly countries as it improves its ties with the major powers of the world, President Pratibha Patil said here Monday. “It is our hope that civil nuclear cooperation with the US and other friendly countries will become possible,” Patil said in her maiden address to the joint sitting of the two houses of parliament that marked the beginning of the budget session.

The government’s optimistic note on the India-US nuclear deal comes amid the continuing opposition of its Leftist allies to the deal which they fear will make India subservient to the US’ strategic interests.

The government has barely a few months to conclude the next two steps - a safeguards pact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a change in guidelines by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) - so that the deal can be ratified by the US Congress in time.

A team of Indian nuclear officials were set to begin the fifth round of talks with the IAEA in Vienna Monday with a view to finalizing an India-specific safeguards agreement with the UN nuclear watchdog, a key step towards implementing the nuclear deal.

In her speech, Patil also underlined the government’s commitment to improving relations with not just the US but with all other major powers of the world like Russia, China, Japan and the European Union. The remarks were made in the context of the Left’s accusation that the country’s foreign policy was becoming pro-US to the detriment of relations with other countries like Russia.

“My government has made rapid improvements in our relationships with the major powers of the world. Our relations with the United States of America have improved in the past few years, and now span a wide spectrum including high technology, space, agriculture, education and trade and other linkages,” the president said.

The president underlined India’s commitment to “a peaceful, stable and prosperous neighbourhood,” and specially “peace, friendship and good-neighbourly relations” with Pakistan.

“A stable and prosperous Pakistan, at peace with itself, is in the interests of our entire region,” Patil, the first woman president of India, said.

“When conditions permit we will resume our dialogue process with Pakistan, aimed at building mutual confidence and resolving outstanding issues, premised on an atmosphere free from terror and violence.”

The president also spoke about the “high importance” India attaches to its bilateral relations with China and underlined the strategic and cooperative partnership which has been “further enhanced and given a global dimension” with the signing of a Shared Vision for the 21st Century during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China last month.

In her address, the president also touched on India’s growing ties with virtually all regions of the world, including East and Central Asia and the Gulf region, which is home to 4.5 million-strong Indian diaspora.

Patil reiterated India’s commitment to “universal, non-discriminatory and comprehensive nuclear disarmament” as reflected in the Action Plan presented by late former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and the government’s renewed efforts in this direction.

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