PM’s G8 trip to Japan uncertain

June 26th, 2008 - 2:21 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 26 (IANS) The Communists’ stubborn refusal to allow the government to go ahead with the India-US nuclear deal has cast doubts over an important international commitment of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh - attending the G8 summit in Japan next month. Reliable sources have indicated that Manmohan Singh is having a rethink on going to the G8 meet where he will meet leaders of important Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as US President George Bush.

Leaders of influential NSG countries like Russia, France and Britain, who have vigorously batted for the India-US nuclear deal, will also be present.

If he goes to Japan, Manmohan Sigh will meet them on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the world’s wealthiest nations.

It will be embarrassing for Manmohan Singh to ask for their support in the NSG when his government is seen to be prevaricating endlessly on the deal.

If the government does not take a political call by early July on going ahead with the deal, which could entail a final parting of ways with its Communist allies, Manmohan Singh may decide to give a skip to the G8 summit, the sources say.

Instead, the prime minister may send External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to the July 7-9 summit in the Hokkaido resort island in Japan.

“It will be a loss of face for the prime minister and undermine India’s international credibility. What will Manmohan Singh tell George Bush who has promised to push the deal through even at this late stage?” a former diplomat who did not wish to be named told IANS.

When asked, Sanjaya Baru, the prime minister’s media adviser, said: “All this is speculation. I don’t want to comment on it all.”

External affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna said: “I don’t wish to comment on this.”

India, along with China, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil, are invited as outreach partners, also called G5, at the G8 summit.

The crucial meeting between the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and Left allies Wednesday ended on a bitter note with Left leaders telling the government that they will not allow the government to go ahead with the IAEA safeguards agreement on their civilian reactors.

UPA’s key coalition partners have backed the deal, but are not in favour of early elections, which could follow if the Left pulls the plug on the government.

India’s safeguards pact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is a prerequisite for the NSG to take a decision on amending its guidelines for facilitating global civil nuclear commerce with India.

If India is not able to finalise the IAEA pact by July, the deal will be as good as dead as there will be very little time left to complete the next two steps - NSG waiver and ratification by the US Congress.

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