Special correspondent

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said the proposed safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency “will enable India to cooperate in civil nuclear energy development with all the 45 member countries of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, including USA, Russia, France and China,” according to a press release by the Prime Minister’s media advisor.

Briefing a group of selected journalists from the electronic media here, Dr. Singh referred to “opportunities for international cooperation in civil nuclear energy, in addressing the challenge of energy security and high technology development.”

The Prime Minister said that “concluding the agreements would end the era of nuclear apartheid against India. He said the agreement will in no way impinge on our strategic programme, which is entirely outside the purview of the IAEA safeguards agreement.

“Stating that India would never allow any extraneous interference in the conduct of our independent foreign policy, the Prime Minister said that India would continue to seek good relations with all our Asian neighbours.

“The Prime Minister expressed confidence that the people of India understood the significance of the initiatives being taken by the UPA Government and endorse them.”

The release said the Prime Minister outlined the steps taken by the government to sustain the growth momentum and curb inflation in the face of external pressures on account of rising crude prices. He referred to the various government initiatives to make the growth process socially inclusive, including the measures taken to insulate the poor to the extent possible from inflation.

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