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An important day for India, says PM

Last updated on: August 01, 2008 22:21 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described as 'an important day for India' the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors unanimously adopting the India-specific safeguards agreement.

Explained: IAEA safeguards agreement

In a statement to mediapersons on the the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Colombo, he said: "I am delighted to hear that the IAEA Board of Governors has decided on Friday, by consensus, to approve the India Specific Safeguards Agreement. This is 'an important day for India, and for our civil nuclear initiative for the resumption of India's cooperation with our friends abroad.

"The civil nuclear initiative is good for India and good for the world. As we move forward towards our goal of sustainable development and energy security, the peaceful uses of atomic energy will play an increasingly important role," the statement said.

"I am grateful to the members of the IAEA Board of Governors, to our partners and friends abroad, and, in particular, to the USA for making this important step in the IAEA possible.

"I am deeply appreciative of the historic significance of this milestone in our cooperation with the IAEA and the international community in peaceful uses of atomic energy."

The prime minister appreciated the significant role of IAEA Director General Mohammad El Baradei and said that India looked forward to working with him and his Agency in implementing the agreement.

Welcoming the IAEA Approval as a 'big step', Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said it will help create an international enabling environment under which civil nuclear cooperation can take place.

"The NSG would be the next big step," he said, adding that the plenary meeting of the 45-member group has been convened August 21 and 22.

"Yes, we hear from the NSG members that a plenary meeting has been called on August 21 and 22," Menon said addressing a press conference in Colombo.

India now looked forward to get a 'clean and unconditional' exemption from the NSG guidelines, he said.

"We have been in touch with the NSG members now for sometime and we will work with them to try and get a clean and unconditional exemption," he said.

Menon said once the NSG clears India's participation in global nuclear commerce, it looked forward to entering into the specific detailed agreements with individual partner countries.

"Then after that is the next step of actual contracts. There is a fair amount of detail that needs to be done," the foreign secretary said.

Additional Inputs: PTI

Nikhil Lakshman in Colombo