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India to tap Dutch friendship for N-energy

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende will be on a three-day visit to India from January 18.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2006 10:58 IST

India will tap the Netherlands when Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende comes on a three-day visit starting January 18.

This will be part of an intensified campaign in India's quest for civilian nuclear energy.

The visit is an important one for India's campaign to influence the powerful Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Netherlands is a member of NSG and can help in relaxing norms relating to civil nuclear trade in its favour, diplomatic sources said.

The support of the NSG, which regulates the export and re-transfer of dual use items that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development, is crucial for unlocking civilian nuclear energy cooperation as envisaged in the India-US pact.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who visited India last month, created a flutter with his insistence on India signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) before Oslo could help it in the NSG with civil nuclear energy.

Like many visiting heads of state and government, Balkenende, accompanied by officials and ministers, will start his trip from India's IT hub Bangalore and is likely to visit Infosys, India's leading software firm. He will also meet tech entrepreneurs.

Balkenende will arrive on the evening of January 19. He will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior Cabinet ministers on an entire range of bilateral issues, including burgeoning business and technological ties between the two countries.

"Innovation and technology will be the defining theme of the Dutch Prime Minister's visit," a Dutch diplomat said.

"The India-EU relations and technological ties will also figure in the discussions. He will also meet a section of the Dutch community."

Balkenende was invited by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the India-EU summit held in 2004 at The Hague during the Dutch presidency.

The two-way trade between India and the Netherlands has exceeded $1 billion. Indian exports to the Netherlands have been steadily expanding as Indian goods find greater acceptance in the Dutch market.

Another significant factor that contributes to the rise in India's exports is the outsourcing activities of Dutch multinationals in India like Phillips, Shell and Unilever as well as product allocations for the Netherlands of other large multinationals like Suzuki in India as a result of their investments in India.

Dutch investments in India have been concentrated in telecommunications, services sector (financial and non-financial), food processing industries and chemicals.

First Published: Jan 07, 2006 10:58 IST