India seeks support from NSG countries, IAEA Board

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New Delhi, Jul 24 (UNI) Getting in top gear after the UPA government won the trust vote in Parliament, India has sought support from several member countries of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for the civilian nuclear agreement with the United States.

Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, currently in Singapore to attend the East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers' Meeting, the ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting and the 15th ASEAN Regional Forum, held bilateral meetings with Foreign Ministers/heads of delegations of Singapore, Australia, Canada, Russia, Japan, Republic of Korea, China, Philippines, France, Malaysia, Canada and Thailand on the sidelines of the ASEAN/EAS Meetings during the past two days.

During the meetings, Mr Sharma sought support of the NSG member countries and the IAEA Board of Governors on India's civil nuclear energy programme.

''The bilateral meetings covered a wide range of issues of shared interest...The Minister also held discussions on India's civil nuclear energy programme and sought support of member countries of the IAEA Board of governors and the NSG,'' an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said here today.

Mr Anand Sharma also met US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and discussed with her the next steps for concluding the Indo-US civil nuclear energy agreement, the spokesman added.

The government has constituted teams to travel to various NSG member contries to drum up support for the civil nuclear deal.

The teams are headed by, besides Mr Anand Sharma, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Prithviraj Chavan, Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.

The draft Safeguards Agreement which was circulated among the 35-member Board of Governors of the IAEA, will be taken up by the Board for consideration on August one.

It will be debated at the NSG within a week or ten days of being cleared by the IAEA, US Ambassador to India David Mulford said.

The deal, after clearing the NSG formalities, should reach the US Congress by September before it is finally ratified, Mr Mulford added.

UNI RB RP AS1804

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