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India ‘encourages’ U.S. nuclear cooperation with Pakistan

Siddharth Varadarajan

New York: In a statement that marks a significant shift in India’s public attitude towards the prospect of Pakistan entering into nuclear agreements with other countries, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday that he was in favour of the United States cooperating with Islamabad in the civil nuclear area.

Asked at a news conference in Washington shortly after the signing of the 123 Agreement about his views on possible nuclear cooperation between Pakistan and the U.S. and China, Mr. Mukherjee said India would encourage greater use of civil nuclear energy by its neighbour. “In respect of civil nuclear cooperation between Pakistan and the U.S., we would like to encourage civil nuclear cooperation — its full use of nuclear energy — as we believe every country has its right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The Minister also praised the recent remarks made by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari following his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month.

He did not identify the remarks but Indian officials have welcomed statements made by the Pakistani President in an interview to the Wall Street Journal that Islamabad did not feel threatened by India.

“The recent statement issued by President Zardari is really encouraging and there is no reason of any apprehension by Pakistan,” he said. “India’s commitment to non-proliferation is second to none and we have, in my 5 September statement, reiterated our continuation of the voluntary moratorium [on testing] which we declared in 1998.”

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