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India, US officials meet on nuclear pact

world Updated: Aug 01, 2007 18:04 IST

Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee held talks on Wednesday with senior US officials for the first time since the two nations announced a landmark civilian nuclear pact.

"We had an exchange of views over the 123 agreement we have signed," Mukherjee told Reuters after a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte in Manila, where they are both attending a regional security forum.

The just-completed pact, called a 123 agreement after a section of the US Atomic Energy Act, would give India access to US nuclear fuel and equipment for the first time in 30 years, even though New Delhi has refused to join non-proliferation treaties and has tested nuclear weapons.

The deal was announced simultaneously in both capitals last week.

"It went off well," Mukherjee said of his talks with Negroponte. "Substantially, we had discussions on how to proceed on the 123 agreements."

Critical steps must be taken before the pact can be implemented, including approval by the US Congress. India must negotiate an inspection regime for its civil nuclear facilities with the International Atomic Energy Agency and win approval from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.