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Nicholas Burns to discuss civilian nuclear matters

Diplomatic Correspondent

Bilateral consultation in the offing


  • Shyam Saran to head Indian working group
  • Burns to call on Natwar Singh, M.K. Narayanan
  • To discuss implementation of July 18 India-U.S. agreement

    NEW DELHI: The United States Under Secretary of State, Nicholas Burns, will be in the capital on October 21 and 22 for a meeting of the joint working group constituted to follow up on the July 18 India-U.S. agreement on civilian nuclear matters. Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran heads the working group from the Indian side.

    Mr. Burns, who arrives in the capital on October 20, will also hold bilateral official consultations — termed the `Asian Security Dialogue' by the Ministry of External Affairs — during his three-day visit. This dialogue was also held in September 2004 and May 2005.

    Mr. Burns will also call on External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh and National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan during this stay in New Delhi, it was officially stated on Tuesday.

    Other than officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, officers from the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) form part of the joint working group, which will discuss the implementation of the July 18 agreement.

    The key issue of who does what when — whether changes in U.S. domestic law to allow civil nuclear cooperation with India will come first or New Delhi will separate its civilian and strategic nuclear facilities before U.S. Congressional action — is on the agenda for the working group meeting.

    Working together

    The July 18 statement said, "The [U.S.] President would also seek agreement from Congress to adjust U.S. laws and policies, and the United States will work with friends and allies to adjust international regimes to enable full civil nuclear energy cooperation and trade with India, including but not limited to expeditious consideration of fuel supplies for safeguarded nuclear reactors at Tarapur."

    It added: "The [Indian] Prime Minister conveyed that for his part, India would reciprocally agree that it would be ready to assume the same responsibilities and practices and acquire the same benefits and advantages as other leading countries with advanced nuclear technology, such as the United States.

    "These responsibilities and practices consist of identifying and separating civilian and military nuclear facilities and program[me]s in a phased manner and filing a declaration regarding its civilian facilities with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); taking a decision to place voluntarily its civilian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards; signing and adhering to an Additional Protocol with respect to civilian nuclear facilities; continuing India's unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing; working with the United States for the conclusion of a multilateral Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty."

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