Sandeep Dikshit

Japan guarded on support for nuclear deal

India should address IAEA negotiations to respond to concerns: Abe

India, Japan see “eye-to-eye” on defence cooperation

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said he was confident of weathering the political storm over the nuclear deal with the United States, even as India failed to win unequivocal Japanese support for the agreement.

At a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Dr. Singh, when asked about the Left parties’ opposition to the deal, said: “It is true that we have some turbulence in the political air in Delhi but I am confident that we shall overcome it. If winter comes, spring won’t be far behind.”

Dr. Singh continued smiling when the question was translated into Japanese, and termed the query “naughty.”

Asked about expectations from Tokyo with respect to the nuclear deal, Dr. Singh said he hoped that it would support New Delhi when the 45-country Nuclear Suppliers Group considers relaxing its present restrictive attitude to trade with India. But before that India had to sign a country-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he pointed out.

Mr. Abe said Japan was aware of India’s strategic importance. It also understood New Delhi’s necessity to increase energy generation by utilising nuclear energy. As Japan was the only country to be victimised by atomic bombs, it attached particular importance to nuclear proliferation and disarmament. “Therefore, it will watch very closely the implications on the nuclear disarmament regime.”

Mr. Abe told Dr. Singh that it was “indispensable for India to address appropriately the IAEA negotiations to respond to concerns expressed by Japan and international community. We also intend to participate in the international discussions.”

Though there was no clear commitment from Japan on the nuclear deal, the two sides decided on a road map to implement a strategic relationship.

This would involve closer political and diplomatic coordination on bilateral, regional and global issues and stronger defence and technological cooperation.

Mr. Abe said both countries saw “eye-to-eye” on defence cooperation and Japan had a “positive attitude” on supporting India’s infrastructure development.

Dr. Singh said the discussions were “very fruitful and intense” and economic ties would form the core of the strategic engagement.

More In: Today's Paper