India is exploring the possibility of signing a bilateral civilian nuclear deal with South Korea.
The deliberations continued in the backdrop of India’s monitoring of a meeting of the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) countries in New Zealand next week, which could possibly discuss the China-Pakistan nuclear cooperation agreement. But India has refused to join the debate, reserving comments on an issue between two sovereign countries.
Meanwhile, Indian External Affairs minister SM Krishna is leaving for Seoul to attend a joint commission meeting that would take up civil nuclear cooperation.
“It will be discussed,” Gautam Bambawale, the joint secretary in charge of East Asia told reporters on Wednesday.
Krishna begins his three-day visit to South Korea today (Thursday). He will also call on President Lee Myung-Bak amidst tensions and war clouds hovering over the Far East. South Korea, an NSG member, supported the waiver for India in the NSG meeting in September 2008.
Asked for his views on the China-Pakistan nuclear deal, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Vishnu Prakash, however, refused to comment on the nuclear agreement that may come up for consideration in the NSG meeting. “Who are we to comment on arrangements between other countries,” he said.
Prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh had also refused to comment on the issue earlier. Chinese and Pakistani officials have signed an agreement to finance the construction of two nuclear reactors to be built by the China National Nuclear Corporation at Chashma in Pakistan.
The NSG forbids transfer of nuclear materials to countries who have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The NSG, however, made a one-time exception for India in September 2008 by clearing the India-US nuclear deal. The US will likely oppose the China-Pakistan deal in the NSG meeting.