P. S. Suryanarayana
Trust vote victory a significant development, says Condoleezza Rice
SINGAPORE: The United States has reaffirmed its “support” for India in taking their civil nuclear energy initiative “forward” in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
The “reassuring support” was conveyed by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma here, on the sidelines of regional meetings on security and economic issues.
Ms. Rice and Mr. Sharma informally exchanged “substantive” views twice, on the eve of an annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum and during the session itself on Thursday. Mr. Sharma later said Ms. Rice saw the trust vote won by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Lok Sabha as “a very significant development.”
Asked whether Ms. Rice harped on the need for a greater non-proliferation thrust by India, now that its civil nuclear energy concerns might be addressed, Mr. Sharma said she did not. On the other hand, New Delhi was now “fully assured” of U.S. commitment to “mobilise support [for India] in the NSG.”
U.S. sources told The Hindu that Ms. Rice acknowledged the latest “positive” development of India being able to move forward to operationalise its nuclear deal with Washington. She noted this when the issue briefly figured in the U.S.-ASEAN meeting here.
Mr. Sharma, who held discussions here with the Foreign Ministers or delegation leaders from several countries in the NSG and on the IAEA Board, said they noted India’s energy requirements and its “impeccable non-proliferation credentials.”
He also delivered to his French counterpart a letter from Dr. Singh addressed to President Sarkozy. Similar letters, all seeking the support of the NSG and IAEA Board members, were being delivered. As the Prime Minister’s special envoy, Mr. Sharma said he would travel to Ghana from here and thereafter to some other key African countries and the Baltic republics in Europe, if required.
“We do not visualise any problem with China,” which was willing to enter into nuclear cooperation with India. As for Pakistan, Mr. Sharma said: “We would not like to see this issue, which has a global dimension, getting linked to a regional South Asia … prism.”