The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Berlin vague on G8 entry

New Delhi, Oct. 7: India's 'strategic partner' Germany today refused to give any firm commitment on Delhi's entry into the elite club of most industrialised nations, the Group of Eight.

Unlike Italy, which some months ago at the G8 summit had asked for India's entry into the group, visiting German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder today sidestepped the issue.

'I will lend my support to any effort that devises a mechanism that makes it possible for India to have a closer relationship with G8,' he said, while making it clear that 'this is part and parcel' of the strategic partnership between the two countries.

But Schroeder was keen that both Germany and India should be part of the UN Security Council when it comes up for expansion and restructuring.

Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh clarified that India is a nuclear power and is in no hurry to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

'We are a nuclear power. We are a responsible nuclear power. We act with restraint. We have 'no first use' doctrine in place. We have an impeccable record of export control so that any unauthorised use of sensitive nuclear materials can be effectively prevented,' Singh said.

'I don't know whether the circumstances are ripe right now for us to sign the NPT. But we are voluntarily fulfilling all the commitments that go with being a responsible nuclear power acting with due restraint,' he added.

The Germans till recently had been one of the vocal supporters of the move to have India and Pakistan sign the NPT as non-nuclear members. It was not clear whether the issue was discussed between the two leaders today.

But Singh's remarks were an emphatic statement that India would sign the treaty only if and when it was recognised by the signatories to the treaty as a declared nuclear power.

He also said that the treaty in its present form was flawed as it could not prevent the clandestine transfer of nuclear technology.

Singh sought more direct investment into India from Germany and assured Schroeder of his government's commitment to economic reforms.

Schroeder said Germany valued its relationship with India but appeared a little patronising on the situation in South Asia. 'I encouraged India's leaders to continue along the path of confidence-building and dialogue,' he said.

He added he would deliver the same message to Pakistan on an upcoming visit.

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