PM leaves for US and France, n-deals likely (Lead)

September 22nd, 2008 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) With the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) waiver behind him, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday left on a 10-day trip to the US and France that could fetch India nuclear agreements with both countries. The NSG waiver allows India to trade in civil nuclear energy with leading world players in the field.

The prime minister will also address the UN General Assembly, participate in the India-European Union annual summit and hold bilateral meetings with a host of world leaders during the trip that will take him to New York, Washington, Marseilles and Paris.

He will also make a ‘technical halt’ on Monday night at Frankfurt.

Manmohan Singh called for a “collective” approach from the world leaders to deal with “contemporary challenges” like terrorism, food and energy security, while stressing on the UN’s central role to provide “peace, stability and development” in the world.

He will be attending the UN General Assembly after a gap of three years where his speech is scheduled for Sep 26.

“I am leaving for New York to attend the 63rd Session of the UN General Assembly. India has consistently attached importance to the central role of the United Nations in promoting global peace, stability and development,” the prime minister said in his departure statement.

He will also address the UN High Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals while in New York.

“I will use the opportunity to articulate India’s conviction that the contemporary challenges of our times are best addressed through collective and multilateral approaches,” he added.

He said he would also call for the reform of international institutions, including the UN to meet the challenges in the world.

While in New York, the prime minister will also meet a group of US CEOs and members of the Indian-American community, who have both contributed to the “consolidation” of Indo-US relations.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, prime minister’s special envoy on the India-US nuclear deal Shyam Saran, additional secretary (in-charge of UN) Vivek Katju, and other senior officials of the prime minister’s office (PMO) and foreign office are part of Manmohan Singh’s delegation.

US President George Bush will host Manmohan Singh at the White House in Washington Sep 25. If the US Congress approves the 123 nuclear pact by then, the two leaders will sign the implementing 123 nuclear cooperation agreement. Bush will also host a dinner for his Indian guest.

“I look forward to my discussions with him on the entire range of issues on our bilateral agenda with the United States, including our civil nuclear initiative,” the prime minister said in his statement.

He will meet several world leaders on the sidelines of the UNGA session in New York, including Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

The prime minister will leave New York for Marseilles Sep 28 to attend the India-EU Summit scheduled there the next day. A meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy is scheduled for Sep 30 in Paris where the main focus will be on civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

India and France have “initialled” an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation, but were yet to conclude it.

“India’s relations with France are longstanding and of strategic importance,” the prime minister said in his statement.

He added: “I am confident that my visit will lead to the further consolidation of our relations in the areas of trade and investment, defence, space, civil nuclear cooperation and high technology.”

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