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India not to sign NPT
We are fulfilling all norms, says PM
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 7
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today made his maiden policy statement on a sensitive and controversial matter like Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and dropped enough hints that India was not interested in signing the NPT when he said India was already fulfilling all commitments of the Treaty.

The Prime Minister made these averments in his joint Press briefing in Hyderabad House along with the visiting German Chancellor, Mr Gerhard Schroeder. Significantly, during this joint Press interaction he obliquely referred to Pakistan’s Khangate — the exploits of scientist A.Q. Khan.

When asked by a German journalist about whether India would sign the NPT, Dr Manmohan Singh said: “We ourselves are victims of the gaps that exist in the present non-proliferation arrangements. I do not want to talk about it. We have seen, for example, the clandestine export of nuclear material in our region. So we are also committed to working with like-minded countries to strengthen the non-proliferation regime to prevent unauthorized proliferation. As far as the signing of what you said I do not know whether the circumstances are right for us right now to sign that. But we are voluntarily fulfilling all the commitments that go with a responsible nuclear power acting with due restraint.”

The Prime Minister made it a point to give a detailed answer to the question on the possibility of India signing the NPT. Here is more of what the PM said on the subject:

“We are a nuclear power but we are a responsible nuclear power. We act with restraint. We have a no first use doctrine in place. Also, we have an impeccable record of export control so that any unauthorised use of this sensitive nuclear material can be effectively prevented and we are interested in working with like-minded countries to strengthen the non-proliferation system.”

Chancellor Schroeder complimented the UPA government’s role, particularly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s role, in bringing India and Pakistan together and leaving the history of conflicts behind them.

“Therefore, the recent talks that took place in New York are certainly talks that we would very much welcome and that we wholeheartedly support,” Chancellor Schroeder said. Dr Manmohan Singh said Chancellor Schroeder’s visit to India “underlined our mutual interest in building a strategic partnership between Germany and India” and added that “We have decided to continue meeting every year”.

Mr Schroeder said “I can only confirm what the Prime Minister has just said that we see this relationship as a truly strategic relationship and strategic always means a long-term partnership, one that is designed to be a lasting one between India and Germany.”

Asked if Germany was doing anything to push the Indian case for India’s inclusion in G-8, Mr Schroeder said: “We also talked about this issue of India and its relationship with the G-8. I can only say that I will lend my support to any effort that devises a mechanism, which would then make it possible for India to have a closer relationship with the G-8. That is something that is part and parcel of strategic partnership (about which) I spoke earlier on.”

The Prime Minister described Germany as “the heart of Europe”, geographically and economically. He stressed that as a key member of an expanding European Union and as a member of the G-8, India valued its interactions with Germany.

He stressed that cooperation in high technology areas would remain a focus of bilateral cooperation in future.

The Prime Minister pointed out that India was one of the fastest growing economies in the world and Germany could take advantage of this.

Dr Manmohan Singh underlined the need for doing more in trade and investments and stated that he would like more foreign direct investment from Germany. “In the field of Information Technology only 1/10th of our global exports go to Germany. This is far below the potential. We have agreed to set a target to double our bilateral trade in the next five years.”

Mr Schroeder agreed with Dr Manmohan Singh on this point and said: “I also agree that we certainly have not explored the whole potential of our economic cooperation and certainly there remains quite a lot to be done.” Nonetheless, the two countries had been able to lift scientific cooperation to a new and higher level, the German Chancellor added.

The German leader said he shared the conviction that it was absolutely essential that we do everything in order to promote trade in the next few years to come. In this regard, he said the two countries had agreed to have a very close exchange between their economic advisers.

“We have this objective of doubling our trade volume and we shall do everything that we can to remove any barriers that might stand in the way of such a development.”

Mr Schroeder made a pointed reference to “a lot of common ground” on India-Germany positions on the WTO and complimented India’s contribution to the successful conclusion of the negotiation pact that was concluded in July in the framework of WTO.

During the Manmohan-Schroeder talks, the developments in Afghanistan where Presidential elections are being held later this week came up for some pointed discussion.

The two countries also noted that their decision to support each other’s candidature for permanent membership of the UNSC was proof of their resolve to work together in the larger interest. 

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