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72 hours on the blink

It's been one long 72-hour-day for reporters camped in Vienna’s swank 22nd district, waiting for driblets of information on the Unclear (sorry, Nuclear) Suppliers Group debates, writes Amit Baruah.

world Updated: Sep 07, 2008 00:17 IST
Amit Baruah

It's been one long 72-hour-day for reporters camped outside Andromeda Tower in Vienna’s swank 22nd district, waiting for driblets of information on the Unclear (sorry, Nuclear) Suppliers Group debates.

As assorted bunch of 25 journalists have been literally running after diplomats coming out of the NSG meeting. Some have been kind with their information, others have been downright rude.

Since the Andromeda Tower houses a number of other offices as well, reporters have often ended up red-faced, when a tie-and-suit gentleman responds, “NSG? What is that?”

Insomnia in Austria

The nuclear cartel has been giving the press sleepless nights. On Friday morning, the NSG deliberations began at 9.30 am local time and went on till 1.40 am local time – 16 hours of intermittent meetings.

At night, curious onlookers wondered what was going on, as television cameras and tired reporters dotted the landscape. One made a particularly intelligent guess: “Ah, a celebrity must be inside.”

Globalised, at last!

It’s been a case of journalists gathering information from nameless diplomats from nameless countries. No one wants to give out their name or country affiliation as they speak to reporters.

Some have been asking what implications a non-waiver from the NSG would have for PM Manmohan Singh and his government. Would he be able to survive? Will the nuclear deal be an issue in the next elections?

Whatever else it might do for India, this nuclear business has done something to spread the word about the country's politics.

45 unhappy faces?

As the meeting reconvened at 11 am local time on Saturday, some diplomats were hopeful of a solution. Many had come with suitcases in hand, having been forced to reschedule a return to European capitals slotted for Friday evening.

Whatever happens to India’s fate later in the day, this is a waiver not many countries will be celebrating. As one diplomat put it to me, “Everybody is equally unhappy.”

That possibly says it all.