M A I N   N E W S

NSG meet inconclusive
To reconvene on Sept 4
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
With a small group of countries holding the Indo-US nuclear deal hostage to their non-proliferation concerns, a crucial two-day meeting of the nuclear suppliers group (NSG) to grant waiver to India to engage in nuclear trade ended inconclusively today.

The draft of the waiver, circulated by the United States yesterday at the NSG meeting in Vienna, was not acceptable to some countries, which suggested certain amendments, though they did not oppose exemption to India to join the international community in civilian nuclear commerce.

India and the US are now likely to fine-tune the text of the draft, which may be acceptable to those countries, which have opposed the waiver without conditions.

The NSG is expected to hold another session on September 4-5 in Vienna to resume discussions on the issue and Indian officials were confident that the waiver would come at this meeting.

After intense deliberations over the move that will end India’s isolation in the civil nuclear commerce, diplomats were quoted as saying that no final decision could be arrived at.

“The meeting was positive... Many delegates raised some questions and the US is pleased (with that). I remain optimistic and we will continue to make progress,” John Rood, leader of the US delegation at the NSG meet told reporters after the two-day discussions.

US assistant secretary of state Richard Boucher, a key figure in the Indo-US negotiations on the nuke deal, is rushing to New Delhi on Monday to meet Indian officials.

Earlier today, Boucher, who was in Mumbai, said changes might have to be effected in the draft of the waiver and India would have to accept them. However, The changes would in no way impede the process of the nuke deal.

“I don’t want to lie to you...I can’t really lie. There might be some changes that we could accept. But we are pushing for a clean text”, Boucher said.

“The US and India will have to sit together and see what we can accommodate and what we can’t. We will have to talk to the other governments involved”, he said.

Boucher did not specify as to what kind of changes would be made in the draft which was moved by the US at the NSG meet yesterday.

The draft had been finalised after tough negotiations between Washington and New Delhi, which has been keen on ensuring that no conditions are attached to the waiver.

“Most of the countries I talked to and most of the countries we are hearing from Vienna are positive. They understand the sort of importance in having cooperation with India”, the US official said.

According to Indian sources, a few countries, like New Zealand, Switzerland, Austria, Norway and the Netherlands, again raised concerns over granting exemption to India without any condition. However, none of these countries was against the waiver to bring India back into the nuclear mainstream.

At today’s meeting, representatives of the member countries deliberated upon various ideas and suggestions put forth by some of them during the discussions yesterday. They even proposed certain amendments which could be made in the draft so that it was acceptable to them.

Officials in the South Block were not unduly perturbed over reports from Vienna that the NSG did not grant the waiver today, necessitating another meeting of the cartel.



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