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Brazil, South Africa back India's N-energy quest

By V S Chandrasekar in Brasilia
September 14, 2006 16:37 IST
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India's quest for civil nuclear energy got a major boost with two key members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group Brazil and South Africa expressing readiness to cooperate with New Delhi.

Brazil, current chair of the 45-member NSG, and South Africa, voiced support for "inalienable right of all states to the peaceful application of nuclear energy consistent with their international legal obligations".

Expressing satisfaction over the outcome of the first-ever Summit of India-Brazil-South Africa, officials said the support by Brazil and South Africa is significant. It comes amid efforts by New Delhi to muster support in NSG for the Indo-US civil nuclear deal which is required to get endorsement from the 45-nation group to allow international community to have nuclear trade with India.

The three countries decided to explore possibility of cooperation in civil nuclear energy. "The three countries agreed to explore approaches to cooperate in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under appropriate IAEA safeguards," said a joint press communique issued after the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Brazilian President Lula Da Silva and South African President Thabo Mbeki.

They also agreed that international civilian nuclear cooperation under IAEA safeguards amongst countries, committed to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives, could be enhanced through "acceptable forward-looking approaches, consistent with their respective national and international obligations".

Taking stock of the global security situation concerning disarmament and non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the leaders of the India, Brazil and South

Africa reiterated their commitment to the goal of complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

They emphasised the necessity to start negotiations on a "phased programme for complete elimination of nuclear weapons in a comprehensive, non-discriminatory and verifiable manner with a specified framework of time."

Brazil and South Africa also expressed "outrage" over the July 11 bombings in Mumbai and asked the international community to "undertake all necessary measures to bring to

justice the perpetrators, collaborators and sponsors" of acts of terrorism as well as those who "incite the perpetrators to commit them".

Unequivocally condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, the three countries stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism and wanted the international community to further intensify efforts to fight this scourge.

They asked all member states to seriously work towards a expeditious finalisation of the text for a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

India, Brazil and South Africa, who also issued a 14-page Joint Declaration, expressed their commitment to work for promotion of peace, security and sustainable economic and social development in the world.

The three countries sought a decision on expansion of the UN Security Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories so as to reflect contemporary realities and make it "more democratic, legitimate, representative and responsive".

They signed five agreements on trade, energy, agriculture, transportation, science and technology and information society.

In his address at the IBSA Summit, the prime minister said the three nations need to consider ways by which linkages among them could lead to India becoming a "hub to Asia, Brazil an entry point to Latin America and South Africa a springboard for Africa".

"We should expand the idea of IBSA from a project of three governments to one involving more intensively the peoples of our three countries. This would require a greater emphasis on people-to-people contact, on cultural and educational exchanges and on the promotion of trade and tourism amongst our three countries," he said.

Describing the agenda of trilateral cooperation as "bold and comprehensive", he said, "If implemented in earnest it will propel this grouping to a position where its voice will be heard in international affairs."

In his speech, Mbeki said IBSA is an idea whose time has arrived. "It is a necessary response to the current state of play in the global economy and its purpose and objectives are even more relevant in the context of the collapsed Doha development round of talks."

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V S Chandrasekar in Brasilia
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