M A I N   N E W S

Manmohan leaves for US, France on Monday
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
Armed with the NSG waiver, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves here on Monday for the US and France on a 10-day visit, which will provide him an opportunity to discuss the progress in the operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal with President George W Bush and the possibility of concluding a similar accord with Paris.

Singh, accompanied by a high-level delegation, will be in New York from September 23-27 and fly to France for the ninth India-EU Summit at Marseille on September 29 and the India-France summit the next day in Paris. He is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on September 26.

This will be Singh’s first diplomatic engagement after India got a waiver from the 45-member NSG at its meeting in Vienna in the face of stiff opposition from a small group of countries, including China, which allowed this country to access nuclear fuel and technology, thus ending more than three decades of its nuclear isolation.

Briefing reporters here today on the visit, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon said that during his stay in New York, the Prime Minister would pay a working visit to Washington on September 25 for a bilateral meeting with President Bush. The two leaders were expected to review the progress in the operationalisation of the landmark civilian nuclear energy cooperation agreement, reached between them on July 18, 2005. The agreement awaits the approval of the US Congress to become operational.

Both New Delhi and the Bush Administration are quite optimistic that the deal could be ratified by the Congress and ready for signing by the two leaders at their September 25 meeting.

At the same time, it was quite clear that India was not prepared to put its agreements on nuclear cooperation with other countries on hold indefinitely if the 123 agreement is not approved by US Congress before it breaks on September 26 for the presidential election.

Answering questions, Menon said India was looking at the possibility of an agreement on civil nuclear energy cooperation agreement with France during the Prime Minister’s visit to Paris. Moscow also was keen to enter into a nuclear cooperation accord with India during the Russian President’s visit to New Delhi later this year.

Technically, India is not prevented from doing business in civil nuclear energy with other countries after the NSG waiver. However, politically, New Delhi feels that it might not be prudent on its part to strike nuclear deals with other countries at the cost of US companies, since it was President Bush who took the initiative to end India’s nuclear isolation and ensure it secured a waiver from the NSG. US corporations are eyeing nuclear business in India estimated at anything between $40 billion to $100 billion once the 123 agreement is approved by Congress.

In his address to the General Assembly, Singh is expected to make a strong case for the expansion of the Security Council and democratisation of the UN systems. He will also deal with other important issues, including terrorism, verifiable and comprehensive nuclear disarmament, food crisis and poverty eradication.


Terror and dialogue can’t go together
PM to tell Zardari when the two leaders meet in New York next week

Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will firmly convey to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari that cross-border terrorism and the bilateral composite dialogue process could not go hand in hand when the two leaders meet in New York next week on the margins of the UN General Assembly meet.

At their first meeting after Zardari assumed office earlier this month, Singh will also remind the Pakistani leader of Islamabad’s January 2004 pledge that it would not allow the Pakistani territory to be misused for terrorist activities, directed against India.

The meeting between them will take place in the backdrop of an upsurge in terrorist violence in different parts of India, particularly the serial blasts in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi. There have also been a number of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops in recent days as also attempts at infiltration from across the border. India has also blamed Pakistan’s ISI for masterminding the deadly suicide bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7.

Briefing reporters on the Prime Minister’s visit to the US and France, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon said “our agenda with Pakistan is well-known. For the dialogue process to move forward, there has to be an atmosphere free from violence and terrorism.”

Menon, however, did not give time and date for the meeting between Singh and Zardari, saying it was being worked out.

On cross-border trade with Pakistan, Menon said “we would like to start it as soon as possible.”

Experts from the two countries will meet in New Delhi on September 22 for finalising modalities for cross-border trade along the Srinagar-Muzzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakot routes. Reviving cross-border trade on the Kargil-Skardu route was also being considered.

Another significant engagement of the Prime Minister in New York will be his meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

The meeting comes close on the heels of China’s attempt to block a consensus in favour of the NSG granting waiver to India to undertake nuclear commerce. India has already expressed disappointment over Beijing’s stand at the NSG meet in Vienna.

However, India does not appear to be keen to push the matter any further. ‘’The NSG waiver is behind us… the fact is that everybody went by consensus,’’ Menon said.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |