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PM to meet Bush for talks on N-deal

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet US President George W Bush and other NSG members, in Toya, nearly 200 km from Hokkaido. Images from the Summit
PTI | By VS Chandrasekar, Sapporo
UPDATED ON JUL 08, 2008 01:04 PM IST

As the Left parties watch every move of the government on the Indo-US nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet US President George W Bush and other influential members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and seek their support for the civil nuclear cooperation with the US in these fora.

Singh, who struck the deal with Bush in July 2005 and has encountered strong opposition from the Left allies now threatening to withdraw support to the government, will undertake a two-hour early morning drive for his meeting with Bush in Toya, about 200 km from Sapporo, a place where all the G-8 leaders are staying.

The meeting is slated before 0800 hours after which the Prime Minister will have a breakfast meeting with G-8 as part of the O-5 outreach countries summit with them. He will review the progress on the deal with the President.

Singh may brief Bush on the recent political developments in which he has won new and crucial political support for the deal at home in the face of severe opposition from the Left and the possibility of overcoming problems in Parliament from the Left action.

The government's plans on approaching the International Atomic Energy Watchdog (IAEA) for securing an India-specific safeguards agreement and moves for taking the matter to the NSG are expected to figure in the discussions with Bush.

The Prime Minister has pointed out that the US was committed once India takes the decision the US will have to fulfill its promises. It is a public commitment on their part, the Prime Minister said yesterday. He had also said the government would approach the IAEA "very soon" once it takes the decision.

Tomorrow, the Prime Minister will also be meeting the new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.

He will also interact with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicholas Sarokozy, British premier Gordon Brown and South African President Thabo Mbeki, who are all part of the NSG from where India should get a clear exemption for conducting nuclear commerce with other countries.

Singh told reporters accompanying him to Japan yesterday that during the bilateral discussions the civil nuclear cooperation agreement would figure in these discussions.

"Our attempt has been and I will reinforce that effort to impress upon the global leaders that India's civil nuclear cooperation agreement as and when it goes before the IAEA and the NSG that we obviously seek the support of the world community in both these fora," he had said.

The Prime Minister is confident that China would not not be a problem in the way of civil nuclear cooperation though he does not not have a firm assurance from Beijing as of now. His meeting with President Hu Jintao today may have led to further understanding of the Chinese position.

At the G-8 summit with the O-5 countries, Singh is expected to take up the current burning global issues like the oil and food crisis and climate change and the need for reform of international organisations and financial institutions.

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