South Africa assures India of support in NSG

July 31st, 2008 - 9:48 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) Ahead of the crucial IAEA board meeting in Vienna Friday, four African countries, including South Africa, have expressed their support for India’s quest for global civil nuclear cooperation. Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma called on South African President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria Wednesday and sought his country’s support for India in the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

After handing over a letter from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sharma “sought South Africa’s support in light of India’s historic relationship with South Africa and multi-sectoral strategic partnership between the two countries”, a statement by the external affairs ministry said here.

The president “assured him of South Africa’s support and complete understanding of India’s quest for energy security and reiterated the stated position with respect to the matters before the IAEA Board as well as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)”, the statement said.

South Africa is a former chair of the NSG.

Mbeki will be coming on a state visit to India during the third IBSA Summit in October.

Earlier, Sharma travelled to Ghana, Nigeria and Ethiopia, members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special envoy to seek the support of African countries for the India-US nuclear deal.

“Earlier this week we had secured similar assurances of support from President John Kufuor of Ghana and President Umaru Yar’Adua of Nigeria. Later this week he is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia,” the foreign ministry said here.

The 35-member IAEA board will be meeting in Vienna Friday to take a decision on approving the India-specific safeguards agreement - a key step towards operationalising the nuclear deal. Once the IAEA approves the safeguards pact, the NSG will decide on amending its guidelines in favour of global nuclear trade with India.

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