India, Japan agree to step up negotiations for civil nuke deal
New Delhi: India and Japan on Tuesday agreed to "intensify" their negotiations on the civil nuclear pact towards an early conclusion at a high-level official meeting in Tokyo.
Resuming their talks after a gap of nearly three years, the senior officials of the two countries held their fourth round during which they discussed "all aspects" of the pact which will pave the way for export of nuclear reactors and technology to energy-starved India.
Launched in 2010, the nuclear-energy negotiations have been on hold since the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011. The last round was held in November 2010.
The fourth round comes nearly three months after the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Tokyo in May where they decided to direct their officials to "accelerate the negotiations of an Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy towards an early conclusion".
The Indian side was led by Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia)in Ministry of External Affairs, and includes Venkatesh Varma, Joint Secretary(Disarmament), apart from officials of the Department of Atomic Energy.
The Japanese team was lead by Makita Shimokawa, Deputy- Director General, Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department and Special Representative in charge of Japan-India Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will include officials concerned from relevant ministries.
During their meeting, Singh and Abe had reaffirmed the importance of civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries while recognising that nuclear safety is a priority for both the governments.
Significantly, the joint statement, issued after the May meeting, did not carry any reference to India signing the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a precondition for Japan to consider civil nuclear cooperation.
With increasing demand in energy-starved India, Japanese giants like Hitachi, Toshiba and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are eyeing the market in the country to export nuclear reactors and technology.
Later, the Indian delegation also met the Vice Foreign Minister of Japan.
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