Manmohan, Bush to meet on G-8 sidelines in July (Lead)

June 12th, 2008 - 1:57 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush will meet on the sidelines of the G-8 meeting scheduled to be held in Hokkaido-Tokayo in Japan July 8-9. South Block sources said US ambassador to India David Mulford met Manmohan Singh during the day to discuss his proposed meeting with President Bush. The three-day G-8 Summit begins July 7, but India which along which China, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico is an observer will attend the meeting from July 8.

The meeting between the prime minister and Mulford took place on a day when Manmohan Singh made it clear, while delivering a speech to the new recruits of the Indian Foreign Service at a function here, that India would have to go forward with the India-US nuclear deal to break the “nuclear apartheid” that was imposed upon it by the world for decades.

The prime minister asserted that India “would not sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treat (CTBT) even if it comes into being”, to allay fears of the Left parties and others that the nuclear deal would impinge on India’s sovereign right for future nuclear tests.

Since the May 1998 nuclear tests, India has put a moratorium on further tests. But it has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as it finds these international treaties to be “discriminatory”.

The proposed meeting between Manmohan Singh and Bush comes at a time when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is making a renewed bid to push forward the India-US nuclear deal despite opposition at home from the Left parties, which prop the government.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukheree told reporters after a book launch function Wednesday evening that the UPA government would try to build a consensus with the Left parties when they meet to discuss the nuclear deal July 18.

Mukherjee also added to the growing voice in the government to go for the nuclear deal when he said, “In my view, nuclear power appears to offer India the most potent means to realize its long term energy security.”

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