NATIONAL

No timeline for safeguards pact

Sandeep Dikshit

NEW DELHI: Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said on Monday that India planned to approach the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for a safeguards agreement “very soon” but declined to set a timeline by when this and subsequent clearances were expected. Speaking to newspersons, Mr. Menon underlined the need for a domestic consensus on an issue of this magnitude.

Asked about the timeline, Mr. Menon said, “Have I ever given a timeline? For us the issue is to go out and get the IAEA safeguards. We are about to do that. Then we will go for subsequent stages.”

Terming the negotiations with the IAEA “unprecedented,” Mr. Menon said, “we will try to build as broad a consensus in India for a big thing like this. We don’t see one as being a constraint on the other [domestic consensus and international negotiations]. Both are necessary. We need to do both.”

Mulford meets Menon

U.S. Ambassador David Mulford on Monday met Mr. Menon to discuss various aspects of the nuclear deal.

Mr. Mulford was with Mr. Menon for about an hour during which the two are understood to have deliberated upon the course of action to be adopted. The meeting assumes significance a day before Department of Atomic Energy Chairman Anil Kakodkar travels to Vienna for talks with the IAEA for the safeguards treaty.

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