Maintain highest levels of nuclear security and safety: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for maintaining the highest levels of nuclear security and safety to retain public support for harnessing the benefits of atomic energy.

"India is expanding its nuclear power programme to diversify its energy mix and enhance energy security. In order to retain public support for harnessing the benefits of nuclear energy, we must be able to assure them of the highest levels of nuclear security and safety," he said in his departure statement before leaving for Seoul Saturday for the Nuclear Safety Summit March 26-27 and paying an official visit to South Korea March 24-25.

The need for nuclear security and safety was "even more important after the Fukushima accident in Japan last year", he added.

Manmohan Singh pointed out in this context that India had prepared a national report on enhancing the global nuclear security architecture "which will be shared during the summit".

"I will highlight the high priority we attach to nuclear security, safety and non-proliferation, and our impeccable record in this regard. I also intend to underline India’s continuing support for a world free of nuclear weapons,” the prime minister added.

Noting that the Seoul summit follows the first edition convened by US President Barack Obama in
Washington in April 2010 “to focus attention of countries with considerable nuclear capabilities on the threat posed by nuclear terrorism”, Manmohan Singh added: “This remains a continuing concern.”

“India has been an active participant in carrying forward the Nuclear Security Summit initiative, and has also hosted a Sherpa meeting in January 2012 in New Delhi,” he said.

Sherpas are the interlocutors who represent the various heads of state and government in preparing for the summit. Manmohan Singh's Sherpa is Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

The summit would also provide the opportunity to exchange views with a number of world leaders who will be attending the conclave, he said.

Manmohan Singh said he looked forward to his bilateral meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, at whose invitation he is making the May 24-25 official visit “to undertake a comprehensive review” of relations between the two countries “and identify new steps for the future”.

With South Korea being a strategic partner and an important pillar of India's “Look East” policy, “we have a vibrant trade and investment relationship. Our partnership in science & technology, education and energy holds enormous promise”, the prime minister said.

“As members of various multilateral forums such as the East Asia Summit and G-20, our two countries have shared interests on a range of emerging political, security and economic issues. I will use my meeting with President Lee to exchange views on important regional and international developments. I also look forward to meeting leading Korean business leaders, who play a key role in bringing our two countries together,” Manmohan Singh added.

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