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India, Japan conclude first round of N talks
TOKYO/NEW DELHI, JUN 29 (IANS/PTI):
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Published on 29 Jun. 2010 11:31 PM IST
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India and Japan, a non-proliferation hawk and the only country to bear the brunt of nuclear weapons, Tuesday wrapped up the first round of inaugural talks on civil nuclear cooperation aimed at sealing a pact that will enable export of nuclear technology from Japanese companies to New Delhi.
“The talks ended on a positive note. The discussions will continue,” official sources said. The next meeting is likely to be held in Delhi.
The talks focused on finding additional safeguards ensure that the sale of Japanese nuclear technology to India is not diverted for military purposes, said the sources.
The Indian delegation comprising Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs, and officials of the Department of Atomic Energy, held talks with the Japanese team led by Mitsuru Kitano, deputy-director general, Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department, in the foreign office.
The two-day talks, the first such effort by Japan that relentlessly criticised the 1998 nuclear tests, began in Tokyo Monday.
The talks began a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan met in Toronto on the sidelines of the G20 summit and discussed a host of bilateral issues, including civil nuclear cooperation.
In light of China’s growing influence in the international arena, Japan is apparently seeking to better position itself by strengthening business ties with India, the report said. The talks held between Japanese and Indian diplomats were attended also by officials from Japan’s Cabinet and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Given its extreme sensitivity on nuclear issues due to its history as a pacifist nation that saw two of its cities destroyed by nuclear bombs in 1945, Japan’s decision to start nuclear talks with India has taken many by surprise.
Ahead of the talks, the Japanese business daily Nikkei said Tokyo was prodded by the US and France to sign a nuclear deal with India that would clear the way for General Electric Co France’s Areva to use Japanese suppliers for nuclear projects to India.
Both GE and Areva have won contracts to build two reactors in India. The Asahi Shimbun also echoed this view. “Signing a nuclear treaty between Japan and India would be beneficial for American and French companies,” it said.
Westinghouse Electric Co. belongs to Japan’s Toshiba Corp. group. General Electric Co. has a business partnership with Hitachi Ltd.
With India signing bilateral nuclear pacts with nine countries, including the US, Russia, France and Canada, Japanese firms don’t want to miss a share of the growing nuclear pie in India.

 
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