Manmohan Singh, Bush bilateral meet on July 9

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New Delhi, Jul 4: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is set to hold a bilateral meeting with US President George W Bush on the sidelines of upcoming G-8 summit at Toyko in Japan on July 9, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said here on Friday, July 4. Menon who was briefing the media said Indo-US nuclear agreement will come up for discussion during the meeting. Shivshankar Menon will accompany the Prime Minister delegation to the July 7-9 summit of eight industrial nations of the world.

Asked if the Prime Minister will urge the US President to get India the mandatory waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Foreign Secretary replied in the affirmative and added infact the United States is committed to get India the necessary exemption from the NSG as per the July, 2005 agreement on the civil nuclear deal between the two nations.

Mr Menon said India's participation in the Group of Eight Summit will also provide the country an opportunity to interact with other members of the NSG and the Prime Minister, during bilateral with such leaders, will also discuss the NSG waiver with them.

Prime Minister special envoy on the nuke deal Shyam Saran has already stated that India-specific safeguards agreement with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is almost ready and will be concluded on receiving the political go-ahead.

On US Senator Gary Ackerman's remarks on the tight timeline for concluding the nuclear deal, Mr Menon quipped; "I have never commented on timelines (in the past) I will not comment now." Mr Saran has, however, said there is still enough time for going through the remaining three stages before the deal is operationlised. Besides the IAEA safeguards agreement, India has to get the NSG's clearance and the approval of the US Congress.
The Foreign Secretary said besides one-to-one with President Bush, Dr Singh's bilateral meetings are also scheduled with leaders of China, Russia, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Indonesia, adding more are being set up. In addition to meetings with permanent eight members of the rich nations' club, bilaterals are also being held with Outreach Five countries (O-5) and three additional Outreach countries.

The Group of Eight members are the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Italy, Japan and Russia. For Mr Bush it is his last G8 summit, while it will be the first summit for Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Outreach Five comprises India, China, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico, while Australia, South Korea and Indonesia are additional three Outreach member countries.

Mr Menon said multilateral talks at the summit would be on development, climate change, energy and food besides the state of the world economy.

India, he said, has already unveiled its climate change action plan. Launched on Monday, the action plan, however, does not set target reduction of greenhouse gas emissions but seeks to promote sustainable development through use of clean technologies.

Defending it, the Foreign Secretary said it is for the developed countries to limit emissions because for developing countries the primary focus has to be on sustainable development so also bring millions of their poor into the mainstream of development to provide them its benefits. But, Mr Menon said India will be doing its bit and would be ready to make its contribution in the major economies' meeting before the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009.

India's National Action Plan on Climate Change categorically states that the country's per capita greenhouse gas emissions will "at no point exceed that of developed countries".

The plan, unveiled by the Prime Minister, will be implemented through eight missions which represent multi-pronged, long-term and integrated strategies for achieving key goals in the context of climate change.

The Foreign Secretary said; "India will engage actively in multilateral negotiations in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in a positive, constructive and forward-looking manner" as committed in the plan document.

On energy and food security, Mr Menon said leaders of the developed world should tackle these with the same commitment they have shown in tackling AIDS by going soft on intellectual property rights in providing the world with cheaper drugs. The developed world should chalk out strategy to bring about Green Revolutions in various parts of the world the way India has brought about it to tide over the food crisis. "India being self-sufficient has in no way contributed to the crisis." Mr Menon replied in the negative when asked if India could come under pressure of the G-8 leaders to ease restrictions on export of certain food items such as non-bastmati rice.

The Foreign Secretary said India is holding discussions with Iran and Pakistan on the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline but emphasised the country has to see the economic and commercial viability of the IPI deal and also ensure the security of gas supplies.

He said India will also participate in a meeting of Bric nations during the 34th G-8 summit. Besides India, the grouping comprises Russia, China and Brazil.

Mr Menon said the multilateral summit will also make a mid-term review of the issues which came under focus at the 33rd summit held in Heiligendamm, Germany. Those were innovation, energy efficiency and development.

New Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor project is also expected to come up for discussion between the Indian and Japanese Prime Ministers on July 9. The 100-billion dollar project, conceptualised during Dr Singh's visit to Japan in December, 2006, is now awaiting financial closure before it takes off. The project is to come up on either side of the proposed dedicated rail freight corridor between the two Indian metros.

Africa, which has been on the G8 agenda since 2000 when Japan last chaired the G8, will again come under focus at the summit, Mr Menon said.

Japan is the Chair of the G8 for the fifth time. Earlier, Japan had assumed the G8 presidency for four times in 1979, 1986, 1993, and 2000.

Political issues, including nuclear Non-Proliferation and terrorism, are also slated for discussion at the summit.


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