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IBSA to team up in nuclear field

Sandeep Dikshit

Foreign Ministers call for diplomatic resolution of the Iran issue

FOCUS ON NUCLEAR FIELD: Foreign Ministers of Brazil, India, and South Africa - Celso Amorim (left), Pranab Mukherjee, and N. C. Dlamini-Zuma - with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday. The trilateral meeting decided to explore ways to cooperate in the civilian nuclear field. - PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI: Brazil and South Africa, as members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), have resolved to explore ways for cooperation with India in the civil nuclear field through “acceptable forward-looking approaches.”

The support comes at a time when India may have to approach the NSG seeking changes in its guidelines to enable it commence trade in the nuclear sector with signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This hinges on India signing the 123 agreement with the U.S. The subject is now being negotiated by a high-level team in Washington.

Reiterating that any multilateral decision on nuclear fuel cycle did not undermine the “inalienable right of states to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in conformity with their international legal obligations,” the Foreign Ministers of the three countries at a meeting on Tuesday called for a diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue.

They noted their “positive continuing cooperation” at the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) and other fora to ensure the development of peaceful uses of atomic energy through supply of technology, equipment and material under appropriate safeguards and “reaffirmed their will to intensify such cooperation.”

The decision to undertake trilateral cooperation in civil nuclear field follows the support of the two countries to India in its efforts to open up avenues in this area at the maiden India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) summit in Brasilia last year.

At a press conference after the meeting, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the NSG would take a view after the conclusion of the 123 agreement with the U.S. Civil nuclear cooperation was emerging as a priority area for cooperation among the India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) grouping, he said.

Mr. Mukherjee’s counterparts from Brazil and South Africa, Celso Amorim and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, were present at the news conference.

Besides taking a common stand on the nuclear issue, a joint communiqué at the end of the meeting sought a more democratic and responsive United Nations, which included the expansion of the Security Council.

The Ministers stressed the need to reform the international financial architecture (particularly the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) and expressed concern over the slow rate of progress. They noted that commitments undertaken by the West for an increase in the Official Development Assistance was not fulfilled.

Brazil would work with the Latin American grouping Mercosur (a regional trade agreement among Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, founded in 1991) to set up a meeting of a working group to explore the possibility of a trilateral free trade agreement with India and the South Africa Cooperation Union.

In an interview to The Hindu, Mr. Amorim had said the emergence of such a large “economic space” would place India, Brazil and South Africa in a better position to face the north “in a creative, competitive way. 221; The working group would be set up September this year.

The three countries called for an early conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda and felt the agreement must eliminate trade distortions, especially those limiting access to the developed countries’ markets, including domestic support and other forms of internal support instrumented by the developed countries.

They called on developed countries to take the lead by making “further truly significant commitments” at an early date for green house gas reductions in the period beyond 2012.

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