India likely to discuss civil nuclear cooperation with Republic of Korea

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New Delhi, June 16 (ANI): India is likely to discuss Civil Nuclear Cooperation with the Republic of Korea (ROK) during the Joint Commission Meeting to be held between the visiting External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his counterpart in Seoul.

Replying to a question during MEA's press briefing asking if there is any prospect of civil nuclear cooperation and what is the update on the POSCO project, as there were some hurdles when the ROK President visited India in January, Joint Secretary (EA) Gautam Bambawale said: "On the first question of civil nuclear cooperation, I think it will be discussed at the Joint Commission between the two Foreign Ministers. I do not know in what direction that discussion will go. But I think there will be something that the two Foreign Ministers will put out to the press after their meeting."

"As far as POSCO is concerned, I think the Central Government has now given the clearances which lie with the Government of India, and it is now for the State Government of Orissa to move the project forward. I think you have been seeing in the last few weeks that the State Government has been making tremendous efforts in moving this project forward. We hope that it will get off the ground very soon," he said.

Asked about any possibility of defence cooperation, Bambawale said: "The Defence Minister of Korea visited India in 2007 and had very good discussions with our Raksha Mantri (Defense Minister). The Coast guards of the two countries have been collaborating, as has been mentioned by my colleague the Joint Secretary for External Publicity. We look at expanding this cooperation between the two Coastguards, between the two Navies, during this round of the Joint Commission," he said.

"In fact, we will be looking to the Republic of Korea for an expansion of the cooperation between our two Navies definitely in the Indian Ocean and in the Gulf of Aden in anti-piracy operations," he added.

Asked about any possibility of discussion on the PSI and Government of India's stance, Bambawale denied there would be any discussion on the PSI with the Republic of Korea. "In case they raise it we will be in a position to reply to them," he said.

Asked about India's position on a Sino-Pakistan nuclear deal in the wake of the probability of the NSG meeting next week, where China-Pakistan nuclear deal is going to come up, MEA's official spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said : "I can do no better than invite your attention to what the Prime Minister himself said in response to a question a few weeks ago. I am paraphrasing him though. Prime Minister had observed, and you can check, that who are we to comment on some arrangement between two other countries."

External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna will undertake a three-day visit to Seoul from the June 17 to 19 for the Sixth India-ROK Joint Commission Meeting.

The Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) is co-chaired by EAM and the Foreign and Trade Minister of Republic of Korea.

MEA's official spokesman Vishnu Prakash, accompanied by Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia) who inter alia looks after matters pertaining to Republic of Korea, today briefed media persons about the highlights of Krishna's three-day visit here.

He informed as per the schedule of Krishna's three-day visit, the Union Minister would meet prominent members of the Indian community and Indian business leaders on Thursday (June 17).

On Friday (June 18), a Joint Commission meeting would be held.

Krishna will be calling on the President of ROK and giving a talk at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, which is an important think-tank, said Vishnu Prakash.

Krishna during his stay would meet the Defence Minister and hold extensive discussions on the whole range of issues of interest with his counterpart.

He would also be meeting with the Minister of Defence, the MEA spokesperson added. (ANI)

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