FINLAND'S PRIME Minister Matti Vanhanen has refused to make any commitment supporting the India-US civilian nuclear cooperation deal. Nor did he take a position on the proposal for an India-specific waiver on nuclear trade.
Finland holds the presidency of the 25-member EU and, along with nearly half the other EU members, is part of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
"The EU does not have a position on the India-US nuclear deal," said Vanhanen at a joint press conference he addressed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Singh arrived in Finland on Wednesday on a bilateral visit that coincides with the EU-India Business Summit and the EU-India Summit.
Indian officials, however, were not unduly disheartened. They said the Finnish prime minister's was a predictable response from a country holding the EU presidency on a tricky foreign policy issue where it was trying to arrive at a common
Under the India-US deal, firmed up last March during the visit of US President George W. Bush to India, the NSG has to amend its guidelines to allow the international community to have atomic trade with India. A consensus on this has eluded the NSG so far, although some members, including Britain and France, are agreeable. New Delhi and Washington have both been trying hard to persuade the remaining NSG members.
Vanhanen added: "I hope India will take part in all the (non-proliferation) agreements we have in the field of nuclear energy." The remark is in keeping with Finland's traditional support of the multi-lateral non-proliferation system.
Finland however, agreed to support India's bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.