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Thursday, 17 July 2008

N-deal: Foreign Secy leaves for Vienna to brief IAEA

NEW DELHI: Even as the UPA government continues to face opposition from different quarters over the nuclear deal, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon on Thursday left for Vienna to meet the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials.

Shivshankar Menon will brief 30 members of the IAEA and 10 nations of the strategically crucial Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the importance of India's nuclear deal with the US. Getting a nod from these nations will be high on Shivshankar Menon's agenda as any further progress on the deal hinges on the support of both the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers' group.

Among the 35 members of the IAEA Board, 26 are NSG countries. Rest of the NSG countries have also been invited for the special briefing, considering that the India has to seek waiver from the 45-nation grouping after the safeguards agreement is approved by the IAEA Board.

R B Grover, Secretary in the Department of Atomic Energy, is accompanying Menon to Vienna for the briefing. Earlier, India had decided to brief all the 140 members of the IAEA but the plan has now been scaled down as it was considered unnecessary as the safeguards agreement is to be approved only by the 35-nation Board. The IAEA Board of Governors will meet on August 1 to consider the safeguards agreement initialled on July 7.

Burns to reach Vienna for Indo-US nuclear deal consultations

The US State Department said that Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns will be in Vienna at the International Atomic Energy Agency on consultations related to the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

Burns, who is travelling to Geneva for a meeting on the Iranian issue, will stop off Vienna on Friday.

Left blast government

Back home, the Left parties had reacted sharply when the IAEA safeguards draft text was revealed by the government.

CPM leader Prakash Karat had lashed out at the UPA government saying it has lost credibility over the issue.

Saying that he had great respect for Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar, Karat had expressed surprise that even though Kakodkar had said on that the draft was not yet final, how could the government go ahead with it so fast.

However, congress scion Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday hailed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's "vision, tenacity and leadership" over the Indo-US nuclear deal. He said that the accord was worth the risk and "if the government falls in the process so be it.

Coming out fully in support of the deal he, however, expressed confidence that the government would secure the vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha.

Describing the nuclear deal as fundamental to India's energy problems and one which can make the country a global player, he said, "I also believe that you need guts to do it. I appreciate it. I would tell him (PM) to take the risk again, again and again. That is leadership."

In a reference to Left parties, which have withdrawn support to the government, he said they may be opposing it for political reasons but the deal was absolutely in the interest of the country. The Left has an ideological position but the Congress has decided it is good for the country.


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