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Burns to discuss Iran, N-deal with Saran tomorrow

Burns will hold talks with Saran on a wide range of bilateral issues.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2006 15:52 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

India's plan to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities and the growing international pressure to report Iranian nuclear defiance to the UN Security Council are set to dominate discussions between US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran on Thursday.

Burns, who arrived in Mumbai on Wednesday, will hold talks with Saran on a wide range of bilateral issues, including the India-US civil nuclear energy cooperation deal ahead of President George W Bush's visit here.

The two sides will hold the fourth meeting of the joint working group on civil nuclear cooperation and discuss further implementation of the initiatives agreed upon in their July 18 joint statement.

They will focus specifically on New Delhi's separation plan of its civilian and military nuclear facilities presented by Saran during his visit to Washington last month.

The two sides are likely to finalise dates for Bush's visit to India, which is expected in the first week of March.

Although Burns' visit was earlier expected to deal primarily with the nuclear energy deal and bilateral issues, the Iranian nuclear issue will now dominate the discussions between Burns and Saran.

Burns is likely to step up pressure on India to back a proposal by the European Union troika - Britain, France and Germany - to report Iran to the UN Security Council, especially after Tehran broke the UN seals on its uranium enrichment facilities recently.

"The trip was originally planned as primarily focused on US-India relations," US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack has told reporters in Washington.

"Certainly, Iran is going to be an important topic that he discussed -- that he discusses with the Indian Government," he added.

With pressure mounting, India is likely to be in a piquant situation with the US and the EU planning to hold an emergency session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) early in February for a vote seeking Iran's referral to the Security Council for its alleged violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In a recent spat with Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani over his remarks attacking the India-US nuclear deal as a sign of "dual standards" adopted by Washington, New Delhi asked Tehran to instead observe its obligations under the NPT. Burns is likely to cite these remarks to influence New Delhi to vote against Tehran at the next IAEA meeting.

First Published: Jan 18, 2006 15:52 IST