India, US optimistic after first day of NSG meet

August 22nd, 2008 - 11:14 am ICT by IANS  

Vienna, Aug 22 (IANS) India and the US remained hopeful after the first day of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meet Thursday with John Rood, US undersecretary, arms control and international security, saying he was “optimistic that we will be successful in this process”.Rood spoke to journalists below the glass and concrete high rise building of Japan’s permanent mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the end of the Thursday meeting to consider lifting a ban on trade with India to facilitate its civil nuclear deal with the US.

Rood said that the discussions on a proposed exemption from NSG guidelines to allow civil nuclear cooperation with India was a serious subject and those attending the meeting take it in that serious manner.

“From the US point of view it is a very important initiative and we remain committed to achieving it.

“The outcome benefit both the non proliferation regime and for meeting India’s energy needs. We have an important emerging relationship with India that we continue to believe is critical for the US. I think there is a lot of support for that internationally.

“I remain optimistic that we will be successful in this process,” Rood said, adding discussions will continue Friday.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, who invited NSG members for a special last minute briefing Thursday morning before the NSG met, looked happy and relaxed after the 30-minute meeting where representatives of all the 45 member states were present. It was a houseful of government representative that listened to Menon behind closed doors.

None of the participants questioned wanted to talk of the exact agenda followed by the high powered Indian delegation but a senior German diplomat said that the India’s presentation was satisfactory and the questions raised by member countries were constructive.

On condition of confidentiality, one participant admitted that Austria, Switzerland and Ireland had expressed concerns over amending NSG guidelines to open nuclear trade with India without legal assurance against nuclear tests.

Critics continue to say that India’s voluntary, unilateral moratorium is not enough.

Menon said that it was too early to say whether the NSG will meet again in early September to decide by consensus a waiver to India.

If the NSG fails to reach agreement by Friday, it is feared that the US Senate may not have the stipulated 30 days without break to consider the India-US deal.

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