PM says India not to force n-deal on Japan, talks to continue (Third Lead)

By Minu Jain, IANS
Monday, October 25, 2010

TOKYO - Indicating a long haul ahead for the civil nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Monday that India would not force the pact on Japan as he recognised the sensitivities involved. But the two countries also decided to maintain momentum and meet again next month to continue negotiations.

“I recognise the sensitivity of the (nuclear) issue in Japan and therefore I would not force it on you,” Manmohan Singh said here, while referring to negotiations for a civil nuclear deal with Japan.

The prime minister, here on a three-day visit, was answering a question during a business lunch hosted by the Nippon Keidanren, a business lobby, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Japan-India Business Cooperation Committee.

The remark, which points to difficulties involved in civil nuclear negotiations between India and Japan, came ahead of the prime minister’s meeting with his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan in the evening.

Dismissing speculation that the deal on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy could be off the table, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said after the meeting of the two leaders that the positive momentum would be maintained and the next round of talks would be held in the third week of November.

“Two rounds of useful productive talks had already been held,” she pointed out.

“The conclusion you have drawn doesn’t correspond to the sense of play,” she told reporters. There was enthusiasm and a strong impetus for the agreement on part of both Japan and India.

“As I said earlier, there is a positive resolve to strengthen cooperation and come to an ultimate agreement on both sides,” she stressed.

Japan is the only country in the world to have suffered the horrifying impact of nuclear weapons. On Aug 6, 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, flattening the city and killing tens of thousands. Three days later, it dropped another bomb on Nagasaki.

“We are negotiating an Agreement on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy with Japan. I am confident that we will be able to conclude an agreement which will be a win-win proposition for both of us,” Manmohan Singh had told the Japanese media in New Delhi before leaving for Tokyo.

Stating that India sees nuclear energy as a vital component of its global energy mix, he said: “Our nuclear industry is poised for major expansion and there will be huge opportunities for the global nuclear industry to participate in the expansion of India’s nuclear energy programme. We would like Japan to be our partner in this initiative.”

The joint statement on the ‘Vision for India-Japan Strategic and Global Partnership in the Next Decade’ also makes a note of the issue.

“The two prime ministers welcomed the commencement of negotiations between India and Japan on an Agreement For Cooperation on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy in June 2010,” it states.

The document also says that the two prime ministers “reaffirmed their shared commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons”.

Touching on a key point of divergence, the statement says that while Prime Minister Kan “stressed the importance of bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) at an early date”, Manmohan Singh “retiterated India’s commitment to a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing”.

“They also underscored the importance of peaceful uses of nuclear energy and of further strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation efforts.”

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