India, South Korea reach civil nuclear deal
Shishir Bhate in Hanoi
India and South Korea have reached an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation.
This was announced after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak held bilateral discussions on Friday in Hanoi on the sidelines of the 8th Asean-India Summit and the 5th East Asia Summit.
"We (India and Republic of Korea) have finalised an agreement on cooperation in civil uses of nuclear energy which now awaits signature," said National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon while speaking with newspersons after the bilateral meeting.
At the meeting, the two leaders "reviewed the bilateral relationship and the considerable progress that has been made in the relationship since President Lee visited India as the chief guest on Republic Day (January 26). Since then we have agreed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. We have also made considerable progress in cooperation in civil aviation and space, and several areas. The economic relationship too is moving forward steadily," said Menon.
"President Lee also invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit South Korea next year," Menon said.
This is the ninth such agreement on peaceful use of nuclear energy that India has concluded since October 2008, when it first secured a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
The others with whom India has such a pact are the United States, France, Russia, Canada, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Namibia.
Dr Singh and President Lee "also discussed G20 issues, the stress that President Lee wishes to place on development as an outcome," said Menon.
He also emphasised the "need for meeting not just to take decisions but to have a system of systematic implementation of those decisions so that they are carried forward over several years. The prime minister and President Lee both agreed on that. Both agreed that they would work together in the G20 to that end," Menon added.
The National Security Advisor also said that during India's talks with Korea the subject of Posco, the steel major whose $12-billion project in India has been stalled for over 5 years, did not come up.
On Thursday, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, while addressing the media on board the prime minister's aircraft on way to Hanoi from Kuala Lumpur, said that India is appreciative of South Korean investments in car manufacturing, etc, and clearances (that have held the project up) to Posco will be looked into very deeply by the government.
"If the Posco issue comes up for discussion) we will reassure the South Korean government that all these issues will be addressed in a constructive manner," Sharma said referring to the problems that Posco is facing.
He had also said that India values South Korean investment, notwithstanding the controversy over the Posco project, and Seoul will continue to invest in India.