India is in diplomatic overdrive. “Selling” the civil nuclear deal to key members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a 45-nation informal cartel that controls global nuclear trade, has become the top priority for the UPA Government.
As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh picked up the phone and called Russian President Dimitry Medvedev for Moscow’s support, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Perth that India had a “very good case” before the NSG and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherkee will be in Tehran on July 29-30, where Foreign Ministers from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) will be meeting. Presumably, he will be interacting with representatives of key countries like South Africa (which is in the NSG and IAEA) and Algeria, a member of the IAEA governing board.
Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon has just returned from Germany, which currently heads the NSG. All the three other Secretaries in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) are travelling to NSG countries.
N. Ravi, Secretary (East), is in Kazakhastan, and will be going to Ukraine and Belarus, before heading to South-East Asia. Nalin Surie, Secretary (West) has been assigned Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia, all NSG members. Hardeep Puri, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the MEA, is visiting Slovenia, Hungary and Poland. Shyam Saran, the Prime Minister’s special envoy, has been to Ireland and will be lobbying in Brazil and Argentina, too, in his current trip. The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Prithviraj Chavan, is headed towards Italy.
Western diplomats believe that India has “overwhelming support” for the its safeguards agreement to sail through the IAEA governing board.