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US, Russia to discuss civilian N-pact

india Updated: Jul 08, 2006 16:38 IST

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President George W Bush are expected to make progress at next week's meeting towards an agreement on civilian nuclear power, a western official and analysts said.

The two leaders made similar proposals earlier this year on providing nuclear power to developing countries while building in safeguards for non-proliferation.

"I think it is possible you're going to see further discussion on how to advance that cooperation," a western diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Jon Wolfstahl, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Washington, predicted that Putin and Bush would announce the start of negotiations on cooperation in developing a new generation of nuclear power reactors.

"President Bush is very anxious to move his nuclear energy proposals forward and he sees his relationship with President Putin as a natural way to add momentum," Wolfstahl said in a recent interview with a news agency.

"The Russians have probably more modern nuclear reactor technology than we do but they need our endorsement and our cooperation if they are going to bring it to the international market ... so there's a natural sort of convergence of interests on this issue."

Wolfstahl said that the cooperation had been held up for more than a decade by Washington's objections to Russia's cooperation in building the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran.

"Now that Russia has been more cooperative in putting pressure on Iran to abandon its (alleged weapons) programme, I think we won't delink the two issues entirely but will not allow the Iran relationship to get in the way of this particular activity," Wolfstahl informed.

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that a nuclear agreement would allow Russia to import and store nuclear fuel from US-supplied power plants, opening the way to a profitable business.

Russia's hopes to develop such a business have sparked criticism among environmentalists.

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