'N-trade deal with Russia awaits IAEA accord'

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On board PM's Special Aircraft, Nov 20: Rubbishing reports that the agreement for nuclear trade with Russia could not be concluded because of ''external pressure'', Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that though a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) had been signed but it could be operationalised only after an India specific safeguards agreement was finalised with the IAEA.

''Since there was some hitch in finalising the India specific safeguards agreement with IAEA and we are yet to go to the NSG, it was felt that it will be premature to sign an agreement which cannot be operationalised,'' Dr Singh said while talking to reporters on board on his special aircraft on way to Singapore for the India-ASEAN summit and East Asia meet.

The Prime Minister said that though Russia has agreed to install four additional nuclear reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu but neither country want to violate international law regarding nuclear trade.

''They will be installed as soon as we have India specific safeguards agreement and get NSG nod,'' Dr Singh observed.

He agreed that the 123 agreement with the US and the Russian deal were interlinked. ''It has already been understood as such by us as well as the Russian side.'' Referring to the Indo-US nuclear deal, he said the negotiations at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has begun and expressed the hope that they would be ''successful''. After talks with the IAEA, the issue will be again discussed at the Left-UPA Coordination Committee, he said.

Dr Singh said President Putin has been very supportive of India on this issue. Russia has also assured support in the NSG, he noted.

Asked what was Chinese position on the Indo-US deal, the Prime Minister pointed out : ''China has not said they will not support us.'' The Prime Minister admitted that there were some problems in giving final shape to the Indo-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement(FTA).

These essentially involve the extent of concessions India could offer on sensitive products, he said.

Dr Singh said the discussions with ASEAN leaders would seek to expand the horizon of bilateral economic cooperation.

''India needs more investment not only in the North East, but also in other parts of the country wherever there are opportunities of attracting foreign direct investment on terms and conditions, which suit us...We will make India an attractive investment destination,'' the Prime Minister said.

On the situation in Karnataka, Dr Singh said Union cabinet has taken an appropriate decision in this regard.


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