23 July 2008

India begins its lobbying

Eight envoys have fanned out across the globe to make India's case on the nuclear deal...

24 July 2008
The Hindu

India begins lobbying

Special Correspondent

New Delhi: With the nuclear deal back on track, India has deployed a number of special envoys to lobby for its next two stages with countries that are members of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors or the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon met the Austrian state secretary on Tuesday to press India’s case and is now in Berlin for discussions with German officials. Germany is the convener of the NSG. The Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on nuclear matters, Shyam Saran, is in Ireland, considered by India a particularly hard nut to crack. From there he will move on to Australia and New Zealand as well as to Bolivia, Ecudador, Chile and Brazil, all members of the IAEA Board.

Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal is being fielded for the Nordic countries while the rest of Europe and other ‘western’ countries like Japan are being covered by the three secretaries in the Ministry of External Affairs: Nalin Surie, N. Ravi and Hardeep Puri. Special Envoy Chinmay Gharekhan will cover Saudi Arabia, Iraq and North Africa, where Algeria and Morocco are both IAEA board members. Two Ministers of State, Prithviraj Chavan and Anand Sharma, have also been pressed into service to deal with African and South-east Asian members.

Among the scenarios being discussed by Washington and New Delhi is the convening of a short plenary session of the NSG in the first week of August, wherein the American proposal for modification of the group’s export guidelines will be introduced. The draft would then be taken up for detailed examination by a handful of NSG members which form the 45-nation cartel’s consultative group. During this period, individual members will also have time to discuss the proposal in their respective capitals. Finally, the NSG plenary would be called again for the first week of September where the proposal could be approved.

In case the convening of the first plenary in early August is not possible, the American proposal can also be circulated to NSG members through the “point of contact” the group maintains in Vienna, officials said.

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