With new-found support for the Indo-US nuclear deal in his bag and changing political equations at home, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves New Delhi on Monday on a three-day visit to Japan where he will meet US President George W Bush and may discuss steps to push forward the nuclear agreement.
The meeting with Bush on the sidelines of the G-8 Summit in Toyako in Hokkaido between July 7 and 9 is expected to provide an opportunity for the two principals to review the latest position about the deal less than three years after they issued a joint statement on civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries in Washington in July 2005.
With new friends Samajwadi Party and some other smaller parties expected to rescue the government in Parliament in case the estranged Left allies withdraw support on the nuclear deal, Singh could brief Bush on government's determination to push through the deal--the first step being the clearance of a India-specific safeguards agreement by the IAEA to be followed by the US taking up with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for exemption to India for doing nuclear commerce.
The Prime Minister will also be conscious of the fact that the Left parties, which have threatened to withdraw support the moment the next step in implementing the deal is taken, will be watching every action of his in Japan.
The Left parties, strongly opposed to the deal, have, however, held back their hand on their extreme action and decided to wait till the Prime Minister's return from his trip.
India was also in touch with members of the NSG and would continue its discussions with them. Menon pointed out that many of the leaders attending the G-8 are members of the NSG.
The Prime Minister, who is going to Japan for the outreach dialogue of the G-8 with the "O-5" outreach countries, of which India is a member, will also have bilateral meetings with leaders of countries including Russia, Japan, Germany and Britain, apart from China, South Africa, Mexico, Korea, Australia and Indonesia.
The current global food crisis, shooting oil prices and the credit crisis that is depressing economic growth world over are expected to figures in the talks at the summit which will also focus on the climate change issue.
On July 9, the G-8 and O-5 leaders will have a breakfast meeting in which they will take up a mid-term review of decisions taken at the last summit in Heilegendamm in Germany and discuss research and innovation, energy efficiency and security, promoting cross-border investment to mutual benefit including corporate responsibility and millennium development goals.
The O-5 countries plan to come out with a working document reflecting their shared attitudes and positions on global issues like climate change and WTO talks. There will also be a meeting of leaders of 16 countries, also called meeting of major economies (MEM).
India has been attending the G-8 outreach meetings from 2003 and an important outcome of the last year's G-8 Summit in Heilegendamm was the initiative to launch a high-level dialogue between the G-8 and the five outreach countries to be completed by the next year's summit in Italy.