Manmohan to meet Bush, woo NSG countries in Japan (Lead)

July 4th, 2008 - 9:30 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 4 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will seek to push for the India-US nuclear deal when he meets US President George W. Bush and other leaders of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Japan early next week. Manmohan Singh goes to Hokkaido island for the G-8 summit Monday amid clear signals that his government is readying to move ahead with the IAEA safeguards pact - a decisive step that could lead to a parting of ways with the Left parties which prop the ruling coalition.

The government is currently mobilizing support of other political parties that could ensure its survival if the Left lives up to its threat of withdrawing support.

“The US is committed to getting us an exemption under the July 18, 2005 agreement,” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters at a curtain-raiser press briefing ahead of Manmohan Singh’s three-day visit to the northern Japanese island.

“We have been in touch with NSG members. We will seek their support,” Menon replied when asked whether the prime minister will ask the NSG countries to support the nuclear deal.

“We will go ahead with it as soon as we can. Once we take a decision to approach the IAEA, we will let you know,” he replied when asked when was the government planning to send a team to Vienna to sign a safeguards pact with the IAEA.

“We would like to go ahead with it. We go ahead with it as soon as we can,” he replied when asked about US Congressman Gary Ackerman’s comments that the deal should be on the table by September for the US Congress to endorse it. He, however, did not indicate a timeframe for concluding the IAEA pact.

When asked about the progress on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, which the US looks at with disfavour, Menon said India was continuing discussions with Iran and Pakistan to ensure that the project was commercially and economically viable and to ensure its security and uninterrupted fuel supplies. The issues are being solved through bilateral and trilateral meetings, he said.

India is among the five countries - that also includes China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa - invited as outreach countries, also called O-5, at the G-8 summit of the world’s wealthiest nations.

This time round, Australia, South Korea and Indonesia have also been invited for a meeting of major economies on the sidelines of the G-8 summit to broaden global consensus on climate change, food security and energy security and other economic issues.

Besides a separate meeting of the 0-5 Tuesday in Sapporo, Manmohan Singh’s bilateral meetings with Bush, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Mexican President Felipe Calderon have been scheduled for Wednesday.

The 0-5 countries plan to come out with a working document reflecting their shared attitudes and positions on leading global issues like climate change and WTO talks.

At their breakfast meeting Wednesday morning, the leaders of G-8 and O-5 countries will focus on a mid-term review of decisions taken at the last G-8 summit in the German resort of Heiligendam.

The joint meeting of G-8 and O-5 will discuss issues like innovation, energy security and efficiency, development and achievement of the millennium development goals. It will be followed by a meeting between leaders of 16 countries, also called Meeting of Major Economies (MEM). An informal meeting of BRIC leaders that includes Brazil, Russia, India and China is also scheduled.

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