On UN sidelines, PM to talk N-deal and economics

  • Varghese K George, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Sep 20, 2008 01:26 IST
The global economic crisis will be among the issues that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to discuss with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next week.

The PM will also meet Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari during his stay in New York between September 23 and 27.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said the PM would travel to Washington DC on a “working visit” for a meeting with US President George W. Bush on September 26. The India-US civil nuclear agreement — also called the 123 Agreement — is likely to be signed during the PM's visit, if it passes the last hurdle of winning a vote in the US Congress.

Singh is leaving on September 22 for a 10-day trip.

“It’s behind us,” Menon said when asked about China’s opposition to exemption for nuclear commerce granted to India by the Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG) recently. “It ended well for us and we are happy about the outcome at the NSG,” he said. Menon said leaders of China and India would review the progress made on bilateral issues such as boundaries and trade.

The foreign secretary hinted that the India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) would be signed only after the 123 Agreement is concluded. “There has to be something to be put under the safeguards,” he said, avoiding a direct answer on when it would be signed.

Menon said the 123 Agreement and the safeguards agreements are both progressing on parallel tracks. He dismissed as “rubbish” an American news report that questioned India’s non-proliferation credentials by alleging that it had leaked the blueprint of a nuclear centrifuge in 2006.

 

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