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N-deal: Germany to play friend at NSG

It said it would take up India's case 'constructively' with 44-nation group.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2006 03:09 IST

Reflecting a more positive assessment of Germany of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, Berlin on Monday said that it saw "great advantage" in the substance of the agreement and would adopt a "constructive" approach towards the issue when it comes up at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

The German position, outlined by Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday, was elaborated by its Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when the former called on the visiting Indian leader.

Steinmeier conveyed to Singh that "in substance", Germany saw "great advantage in the deal as it will bring India closer to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told reporters in Berlin on Monday after the hour-long meeting.

Steinmeier said that at the NSG, Germany will ask "constructive questions" and was "hoping to receive constructive answers", Sarna said.
 
The comments assume significance as the Foreign Minister had earlier been quoted as expressing concerns over the deal.

The spokesman said Steinmeier clarified to the Prime Minister that his earlier remarks in Washington had not been reported properly as he had expressed disappointment only because of the timing of the deal.

The German Foreign Minister said he had felt at that time that because of the timing of the agreement, it would come in the way of settling the Iran nuclear issue.

He, however, emphasised that India's case had "no comparison with any country on this issue (of the deal)" because of New Delhi's record on non-proliferation.

The Prime Minister said India required to look for more avenues of energy and placed the Indo-US nuclear in this context.

Singh pointed out that India had an impeccable record with regard to non-proliferation, Sarna said.

India is a responsible nuclear power, has put in place tight export control measures and declared a policy of no-first use, Singh told the Foreign Minister.

The Prime Minister also pointed out the rationale for India's credible minimum deterrent and need to maintain its strategic programme, the spokesman said.

On Sunday, Merkel had told reporters in Hannover after her meeting with Singh that "We will be following discussions (on the deal) taking place in the US Congress. US Congress has to support it.... The discussions will follow in the NSG".

"We are following the developments. We are on positive path," she had said. Merkel also said the Indian Prime Minister had affirmed India's commitment to non-proliferation and this would make it easier for Germany.

The Prime Minister talked about the possibility of further cooperation between India and Germany in economic and trade areas and referred to the scope in cooperation in infrastructure development in India like airports and seaports.

The German Foreign Minister said his country was keen to build up relations with India. The Prime Minister also provided a brief on the Nepal situation, saying India has been concerned over developments there.

Singh and the German Foreign Minister also discussed cooperation as part of G-4 aimed at reforms in the UN and expansion of the Security Council.

The two leaders agreed that the situation was ripe to come together over the issue. India's relations with China, Pakistan and Sri Lanka also came up for discussion.