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US optimistic over India-specific IAEA safeguards

world Updated: Nov 22, 2007 02:07 IST

The US voiced optimism over the IAEA succesfully negotiating an India-specific safeguards agreement, for which talks were initiated in Vienna on Wednesday, and was confident that the Indo-US civil nuclear deal will come through.

The safeguards issue is unlikely to come up at Thursday's meeting of IAEA's Board of Governors and will come up for approval at a special Board meeting later. IAEA Director General Mohamed El-Baradei and Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar initiated the talks.

Talking to reporters hours after the talks were set in motion, the US embassador to IAEA Gregory Schultz said once the director general agrees to endorse the safeguards agreement, then several countries will come forward to back the nuke deal.

"Once the India-specific safeguards is approved by the IAEA board then it goes to the Nuclear Suppliers Group for getting exemptions for India for civilian nuclear programme," Schultz said.

Schultz said the Indian negotiators, who will remain here after the return of Kakodkar to India, would carry out further consultations with the nuclear watchdog and then a special board meeting can be convened by chairman of the IAEA board for the approval of the safeguard agreement by consensus.

The 45-country NSG wants the safeguards agreement to be approved by the board to carry out the further process, he said.

NSG had a consultative meeting here last week where increasing number of countries were preparing to give exemption for India. The EU and Russia are already supporting India in this regard and South Africa, which is currently heading the NSG , is also backing New Delhi.

NSG will also hold a special meeting if required before March once the IAEA board approves India-specific safeguards agreement.