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PM in US next week for nuclear security summit


New Delhi : Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be visiting Washington next week to attend US President Barack Obama’s initiative for an international summit on nuclear security.

Speaking to reporters here Sunday, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said India saw the summit as an “important element in strengthening the international resolve to cooperate on nuclear security and supporting the expanded use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”.

“This will be to India’s benefit, given our concerns on terrorism as well as our interest in the expansion of civil nuclear energy,” she said, adding: “We have welcomed this initiative and have contributed substantively to the summit’s preparations.”

The prime minister will reach Washington on the afternoon of April 12 and attend a dinner hosted at the White House for the 40-plus visiting leaders, including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao.

“The discussions at the dinner will focus on the threat of nuclear terrorism, the primary reason why the summit has been convened,” said Rao.

On April 13, there will be two plenary sessions focusing on national measures and on international cooperation to enhance nuclear security, which will be attended leaders from 44 countries

A working lunch would be addressed by the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano.

The summit will conclude with the release of a outcome document, which has been under negotiations for the last six months by senior officials, called Sherpas.

“I have led a team of DAE (department of atomic energy) and MEA (ministry of external affairs) officials in discussions on the summit outcome at meetings of the Sherpas in Tokyo and The Hague. The Sherpas will also meet in Washington on the eve of the summit,” Rao said.

On India’s participation in international efforts to curb nuclear terrorism, Rao pointed out that New Delhi had been “piloting” a resolution at United Nations to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

“We are also active in the works of IAEA on setting and enforcing standards on physical protection of nuclear material and facilities as well as on combating illicit trafficking in nuclear material,” she said.

India is also party to international treaties like the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 amendment and is also participating in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

When asked if the summit will have any discussion on Iran’s or Pakistan’s nuclear program, Rao noted that the meeting was “not about a country-specific situation”.