London, Nov 21: India and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today began formal talks over an India-specific nuclear safeguards agreement to bring the Indian facilities under the watchful eyes of the UN nuclear watchdog.
Mr Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, met with IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, sources said.
The half-hour meeting is only the start of a series of technical meetings between IAEA and Indian experts on the matter.
While there had been no earlier formal talks, the IAEA already laid some technical groundwork. "We are not starting from the cold. Of course we thought about what to do," a diplomat said.
The meeting between Mr Kakodkar and Mr ElBaradei came five days after the Left parties, key allies of the Manmohan Singh regime, allowed the government to go ahead with the talks with IAEA on the India-specific agreement. However, the Left has said it will not allow the government to sign the safeguards agreement just yet.
In addition to technical talks with the IAEA, India will have to reach an agreement with the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group, for operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal.