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Government discusses strategy for NSG draft


New Delhi : With likely changes in the Nuclear Suppliers Group draft waiver eliciting strong political opposition, the Indian government Sunday held a meeting to fine-tune a strategy for handling tough negotiations on this issue before the NSG’s second meeting early next month.

Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on India-US nuclear deal Shyam Saran briefed External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on the nature of objections raised by some sceptical countries at the first NSG meeting in Vienna that concluded Friday.

Senior officials of the external affairs ministry and the department of atomic energy were also present at the meeting.

Sceptics at the NSG, including Scandinavian countries, Ireland, Austria and Switzerland, have reportedly demanded changes in the draft of the waiver to include their concerns about testing, periodic review of India’s compliance and restricting export of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies.

India is pushing for a clean waiver and has made it clear that it will not accept any “prescriptive conditionalities” that could effectively torpedo the deal. The US has indicated that there may be changes in the NSG exemption draft at the next meeting of the grouping Sep 4-5, but these won’t be such “that will impede the deal”.

The meeting took place a day before the US and India get down to fine-tuning the draft which could be acceptable to New Delhi as well as hawks in the NSG when Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon holds talks with Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns in Washington.

The two sides will also review the NSG-related developments when US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia Richard Boucher meets senior Indian officials in New Delhi Monday.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the communist parties have already warned the government that they will oppose any attempt by the NSG which will limit India’s strategic autonomy.