Vol. 5 Num 574 Fri. January 06, 2006  

Japan, India to start talks on nuke issue

India and Japan agreed on Wednesday to launch talks on nuclear issues under the framework of disarmament and non-proliferation in a move to help New Delhi smoothen its integration with the international nuclear regime.

The agreement was reached during talks between visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Indian Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed here.

A joint press statement issued after the talks said "the ministers agreed to launch a dialogue on disarmament and non-proliferation with the objective of promoting commonalities and enlarging areas of convergence for mutual cooperation."

The annual dialogue will also address issues relating to high-technology trade, it said adding the joint secretary level discussion was a follow up of the decision taken by the two sides during Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to India in April last year.

As part of high-level bilateral political contacts to carry forward the strategic cooperation agreed during Koizumi's visit, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to visit Japan later this year. The visit will be preceded by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee's trip to Japan.

The visit by the Japanese Foreign Minister assumed significance because it came at a time when India was working hard to ensure the implementation of its landmark civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States. The accord, reached in July last year, is pushed through the US Congress as well as the meeting of 44-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Japan had reacted harshly when India conducted nuclear tests in May 1998 and raised certain tough questions about India's nuclear programme at the NSG meeting two months back although it did not oppose Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

The US, while entering into the deal with India on civil nuclear sector, had promised to help India secure NSG's approval in order to lift curbs on India's access to nuclear power technology. France and Canada have already agreed to cooperate with India in civil nuclear field.