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Rediff.com  » News » India to informally present case at crucial NSG meet

India to informally present case at crucial NSG meet

April 16, 2007 08:14 IST

As a crucial meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group begins in Cape Town on Monday, India is expected to present its case informally as part of its efforts to join the international nuclear commerce regime.

Though the Indo-US civil nuclear deal is not part of the official agenda of the five-day plenary meet of the 45-nation grouping, the issue is likely to be discussed informally, sources said.

India is sending its High Commissioner to Singapore, S Jaishankar, who had been involved in the negotiations on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, to the South African city in this regard.

The Indian side is expected to brief the meeting about the deal with the US while seeking to allay fears with regard to proliferation by citing the country's 'impeccable record' in this regard.

India maintains that it requires civil nuclear energy to help meet the country's growing needs in view of rapid economic development.

After the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, the NSG is required to change its guidelines to allow the international community to have cooperation in this field with India.

New Delhi has been approaching NSG members individually and most of them expressed readiness to back it.

However, some of the members, including The Netherlands and Norway, still have reservations as India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and their support is crucial as NSG works by consensus.

South Africa's Department of Minerals and Energy Affairs spokesperson Nellie Magubane said that the conference was an 'extremely important' one for the world.

"Delegates from around the world will be present to discuss the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons," she said.

Significantly, the NSG plenary meeting will be discussing issues related to enhancing efficiency of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

The meeting will also discuss facilitation of information exchange among the NSG members and strengthening of the NSG guidelines.

Jaishankar is also expected to hold a meeting with US Director of Nuclear Division in State Department Richard Stratford on the sidelines of the NSG meet, about a month after their talks.

The two are expected to hold discussions on the proposed bilateral agreement, called the 123 Agreement, which will operationalise the deal concluded in March, last year.

The meeting comes amidst reports that the US is frustrated over India's insistence on certain elements like access to reprocessing of nuclear fuel and waiving of legal commitment on future atomic tests.

After the last round of talks, the US had said that the progress was not as much as they had expected.

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