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Germany in no hurry on N-deal

Germany on Tuesday indicates there was no hurry for it to make up its mind on the Indo-US nuclear deal issue.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 23, 2007 09:09 PM IST

With the India-US nuclear deal stuck in domestic politics, India's diplomacy with the Nuclear Suppliers Group appears to be slowly losing steam with Germany on Tuesday indicating that there was no hurry for it to make up its mind on the issue, even as Chancellor Angela Merkel comes here on a four-day visit.

"In Hanover, when this issue was raised last year, Chancellor Merkel understood India's needs towards peaceful uses of nuclear energy," German ambassador Bernd Muetzelburg told reporters ahead of Merkel's visit that begins here on Monday. He was referring to the discussions between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Merkel during the former's visit to Hanover and Berlin last year.

"At the same time there has been a discussion in Germany about the impact such a deal could have on the nuclear non-proliferation regime," he said.

"There is no urgency," the envoy replied when asked about Germany's stand in the 45-nation NSG. He admitted that the issue will figure in discussions between Manmohan Singh and Merkel next Tuesday but it will not come up prominently.

The envoy pointed out to the political debate in India over the nuclear deal and saw it part of the democratic process.

He reiterated Germany's position that it will wait for India to complete safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) before taking a stand in the NSG.

Sections of the German political establishment have mixed feelings about the nuclear deal, which they fear may impact adversely on the global non-proliferation regime.

"Had the deal been on track, Merkel's visit would have been a good opportunity for India to persuade Germany to back in the NSG," an Indian source told IANS.With strategic and economic ties growing between India and Germany, Berlin would not have come in New Delhi's way in the NSG, the source added.

The Indian government has put on hold its negotiations with the IAEA with its Leftist allies fiercely opposing taking the next step that will operationalise the nuclear deal, which the Left fears will reduce India to a subordinate ally of the US.

With the IAEA negotiations on hold till the next meeting of the government with the Left parties on Nov 16 and the latter refusing to accept any compromise to save the deal, the government has gone slow on its NSG diplomacy.

Last week, while on his way back from IBSA summit that included Brazil and South Africa, NSG members, Manmohan Singh said that his government had to resolve domestic problems besetting the deal first before approaching the NSG countries for support.

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