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G-8: world economy will be in focus

Special Correspondent

We have been in continuous touch with NSG members, says Foreign Secretary

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold talks with heads of government on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Hokkaido, Japan. He will hold discussions with leaders from China, Russia, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Indonesia and Australia.

Many of the G-8 countries and the special invitees (Outreach 5) are Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) members. In case India finalises a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the next step will be to get unanimous exemption from the 45-country NSG.

“We have spoken to NSG members. We have been in continuous touch with them,” said Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon when asked whether exemption to India at the NSG would be discussed during bilateral meetings between Dr. Singh and other world leaders.

The five special invitees — Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa — have been seeing a more fulfilling role for themselves at these meetings ever since last year’s G-8 summit decided to involve them more intimately in their deliberations.

The Foreign Secretary did not expect IAEA officials to be present at the summit.

India’s expectations

Speaking on India’s expectations from G-8’s interaction with Outreach 5, Mr. Menon said the state of the world economy would dominate the discussions. The topics would include adjustments required in financial structures, energy security and the high food prices. Leaders would exchange ideas on measures to address these issues. “This [high food prices] worries us all. India is not a food importer but we are affected by prices as long as we are running an open economy.” He expressed the hope that many of India’s ideas and common interests with other countries would be taken on board during discussions on climate change. “Primarily, the developed countries would need to limit emissions. They are occupying most of the carbon space. Our [developing countries] primary responsibility is to develop the means to mitigate climate change.”

G-8 will also interact with Outreach 5 on launching a dialogue involving four issues — research, investment, energy and development. Developing countries found the draft report one-sided and got their viewpoint included in the interim report to be taken up July 9. The mandate is to complete the process by the next G-8 summit in Italy .

The meeting with G-8 will be preceded by an interaction among Outreach 5, or G-5 as its members call themselves. A brief, informal meeting of the Brazil-Russia-India-China grouping will also be held.

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