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Pranab wants Japan to back Indo-US nuke deal
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 23
India today made a strong pitch for Indo-US nuclear deal with Japan and asked Tokyo to be discerning to see that New Delhi’s primary quest in the nuke deal was securing stable energy supplies.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, currently on a bilateral visit to Japan, made this important point in his address at the Japan Institute of International Affairs on ‘Significance of India-Japan Relations’.

“If India is to significantly increase its energy output and address environmental concerns at the same time, we have to further develop our nuclear energy sources. With access to international cooperation in this field, we will be able to do so. Our agreement with the United States is motivated by this logic,” Mukherjee said.

For enlisting support of Japan for the nuclear deal, Mukherjee hinged his case on the following points: India’s impeccable record on non-proliferation, Indian advocacy for elimination of all nuclear weapons, and India’s adherence to the values of peace and non-violence.

“I am confident we will find a common ground that balances our mutual interests and advances our cooperation and collaboration in this area too,” Mukherjee said. Japan is a prominent member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the 45-nation apex body for regulating international nuclear commerce. More than 30 per cent of Japan’s electricity supply comes from nuclear sources.

Mukherjee’s batting for the Indo-US nuclear deal with Japan - a known critic of the deal - is significant as it comes days before a technical team from the US arrives here for preliminary discussions on the agreement. It also seeks to counter murmurs of ‘all is not well’ on the nuclear deal front.

His statement is not without domestic political overtones considering the fact that the Left parties, whose support is vital for survival of the UPA government, have been bitter critics of the nuclear deal.

Mukherjee said if India was to sustain its current high levels of growth over the next two to three decades, it must meet the challenges of energy and environmental sustainability. Today, more than 50 per cent of India’s energy requirements are met by coal and most of its energy supplies come from fossil fuels.

“I am very conscious of the sentiments of the Japanese people on nuclear matters. However, I also trust in your wisdom to discern what lies at the heart of our efforts to secure stable energy supplies.”

The minister repeatedly stressed on expanding the commonalities through increased interaction, growing convergence in economic and security perspectives for the region and the economic complementarities. Mukherjee’s address came after the first ministerial-level India-Japan strategic dialogue with his counterpart Taro Aso.

“I am here in Japan to say that you can be certain of my government’s commitment to ensuring that our economic engagement underpins our vision of a strategic global partnership,” Mukherjee declared.

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