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'We will wait for India to approach us'

india Updated: Oct 09, 2007 19:40 IST
IANS
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The UN nuclear watchdog agency's chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Tuesday said he will wait for talks on India-specific safeguards till New Delhi was prepared, even as the Left allies continued pressure on the government against operationalising the nuclear deal with the US.

"We are ready for talks when they (Indian government) approach us," the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief told reporters here.

"The Indian side will approach me for talks when they decide to approach me. It is a government decision. Until they take the decision I will wait for them to come to Vienna to make a formal request," said ElBaradei, a strong supporter of the trailblazing India-US nuclear deal.

Asked about his expectations of the negotiations, he said: "I have always had fruitful talks with the government of India."

He was talking to media persons after visiting the Tata Memorial Centre's Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer, where he was handed over an indigenously designed cancer teletherapy machine called Bhabhatron II.

The IAEA is to send the machine, showcasing India's innovations in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, to Vietnam as a goodwill gesture.

ElBaradei began his four-day visit of India from this financial capital of the country late Monday.

Earlier Tuesday, ElBaradei met Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar and discussed issues related to India's civil nuclear programme.

Kakodkar later accompanied ElBaradei to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Anushakti Nagar on the outskirts of the city.

ElBaradei inspected the BARC facility and had lunch with nuclear scientists.

The IAEA chief will visit the Electron Beam Centre for Material Processing in Navi Mumbai later Tuesday.

Officials were, however, tight-lipped on negotiations on India-specific safeguards with the IAEA that have become a make-or-break issue between the ruling coalition and its Left allies.

"Though the visit to the Mumbai facilities is very technical in nature, the trip comes ahead of an informal October-end deadline for India to clinch negotiations with the IAEA," a senior official of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) said.

The IAEA chief will be in New Delhi Wednesday and may go to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will call on him during his stay in the capital.

The prime minister has invited ElBaradei for lunch at his 7 Race Course residence Thursday, the DAE official said.

The government - alive to the sensitivities of the Left parties, which have categorically rejected any negotiation with the IAEA - has repeatedly stressed that it has not yet started formal negotiations with the IAEA.

The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Left held a fourth meeting of their panel on the nuclear deal Tuesday, with the Manmohan Singh government getting a 13-day breather as discussions remained inconclusive.