Manmohan likely to meet Hu in Japan next week

July 1st, 2008 - 6:20 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) A meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jiantao is being scheduled on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Japan next week to ensure Beijing’s support for the India-US nuclear deal. “The meeting between the two leaders will take place either on July 8 or 9,” a South Block source said. The two countries are still working on the final date of the meeting.

India and China, along with Brazil, South Africa and Mexico - the five fastest growing economies in the world - are ‘outreach countries’, popularly known as the O-5 that are invited for an interaction with the Group of 8 members on important economic and developmental issues.

Manmohan Singh is scheduled to meet US President George W. Bush, probably July 9, on the sidelines of the G-8 Summit at Hokkaido-Tokyo in Japan.

The meeting between the two is crucial since it will give a clear indication about the time frame for the two countries to get their long-delayed nuclear deal through the remaining necessary steps in the next few months.

The proposed meeting between Manmohan Singh and Hu is equally important.

China, one of the recognized nuclear weapons state in the world, is also present on both the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Its support is crucial to ensure that the nuclear deal gets the green signal from the two organisations at the earliest so that it can reach the US Congress for the final approval.

“China’s support is extremely crucial to ensure the deal goes through on time,” the source said.

“We have to make sure that even if it does not directly support our effort, it should do nothing to block it.”

China has not yet announced its support or opposition to the nuclear deal. It can slow down the process both at the IAEA as well as at the 45-member NSG. But Indian foreign ministry officials have argued that since India-China relations have been growing at a steady pace over the past four years, Beijing may not stand in the way of the deal if majority members of the NSG express their support for it.

Manmohan Singh will be accompanied by a high-level delegation for the G-8 meeting that includes National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and the prime minister’s special envoy on the nuclear deal Shyam Saran.

Though climate change is one of the main themes of the summit and the interaction between the G-8 and the outreach countries, for India it will be the ideal opportunity to enlist the support of the grouping’s key members for the nuclear deal.

The G-8, a group of the most industrialized countries in the world, includes the US, Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Canada, Italy and Russia.

These eight and the four other outreach countries are all important players that can play a crucial role in bringing about changes in the NSG guidelines that can lead to civilian nuclear energy commerce between India and the 45 NSG members.

India is looking at a September deadline to push the deal through all the remaining stages - the IAEA, the NSG and the US Congress - to keep it ready before Manmohan Singh comes back to get a sense of the Indian parliament on whether he should go head and sign the agreement with President Bush.

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