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China studying India-IAEA safeguards agreement

Raghavendra in Beijing | July 24, 2008 17:19 IST

China on Thursday said it was studying the India-specific International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards agreement, whose approval by the global nuclear watchdog is essential to take the India-United States nuclear agreement forward.

"I would like to tell you that China is now studying the draft safeguards agreement between India and the IAEA. The relevant study work is still going on," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.

Liu was asked a pointed question if China would support the deal or not at the Nuclear Suppliers Group as India was initiating further steps to take the deal forward after the Manmohan Singh [Images] government won the confidence vote in Parliament on Tuesday.

China, one of the recognised five nuclear powers, is a member of both the IAEA, which is to meet on August 1 to consider India's case, and also the 45-nation NSG.

                                                              Coverage: The Nuclear Deal

After receiving approval from the IAEA, India would have to get a waiver by consensus from the NSG to allow it to have nuclear commerce with the international community.

Seeking to drum up support for its case, an Indian delegation will later this week proceed to various NSG nations, pushing its case particularly among those harbouring reservations on allowing exemption to New Delhi.

On the eve of India presenting its case to the IAEA last week, China had hinted that it might not be a stumbling block for the deal.

                                                   Also Read: China to back India at IAEA

"I believe countries could, under the presentation of fulfilling international obligations, carry out peaceful cooperation in peaceful (use of) nuclear energy and I hope the relevant issues can be resolved through negotiations between relevant parties," Liu said last week.

Liu's remarks had come close on the heels of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Japan [Images] early this month. After the talks, India had voiced confidence that there would be no difficulty from the Chinese side when the matter comes up before the NSG.

"We have taken note that the US and India are making further contact on this (nuclear) issue," Liu had said in response to a query if China is planning to raise any objections when India's case comes up before the IAEA.

With the G-8 countries on board over the deal after Singh's meetings with leaders of the rich nations in Japan, India had stated that it does not expect any problem in the IAEA and NSG over securing their approvals and exemptions required taking the deal forward.

                                             Also Read: How China stacks up in civilian nuclear power

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