India -Mongolia likely to ink civil nuclear pact

India is likely to ink another bilateral atomic energy cooperation agreement with Mongolia, which has nearly 6% of the world’s uranium reserves.

India is likely to ink another bilateral atomic energy cooperation agreement with Mongolia, which has nearly 6% of the world’s uranium reserves.

According to sources, the pact will be sealed during Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj’s four-day state visit to India beginning on September 14. Apart from the proposed civil nuclear agreement, the two countries are also likely to sign bilateral pacts on health and statistics. India sanctioning a stabilisation loan to Mongolia is also on the cards. This is President Elbegdorj’s first official visit abroad after assuming office in June 2009. FIFTA (Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade Agency of Mongolia) would ink a MoU with the industry body Ficci on Monday to strengthen economic, trade and investment cooperation between India and Mongolia.

From Ficci side this would be signed by Dilip Dandekar, chairman India-Mongolia JBC and from Mongolian side it would be signed by Zanabazar Battushig, vice-chairman, FIFTA. Under the MoU, the industry bodies of the two countries?Ficci and FIFTA?will exchange information on economic and commercial matters, especially about products, industrial processes; industrial training; offers & requests for joint ventures; and licensing & and identification of possible partners. This exchange of information will be free of cost in principle. Also, information would be exchanged on the relevance that will facilitate a conductive environment for enhancing trade and investment between India and Mongolia.

Mongolia is not a member of 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) but is affiliated to the Vienna- headquartered International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Nuclear experts in India point out that Mongolia’s huge uranium reserves could boost and energise the country’s starving civil nuclear fuel cycle.

Mongolia’s proposed decision to supply uranium to India assumes greater significance in the wake of Australia’s reluctance to do so. Mongolia recently signed an inter-governmental agreement with Russia to establish a joint venture to develop, produce and process uranium. If the atomic energy agreement with India is inked during the Mongolian President’s visit, India will become the second country to have uranium-linked cooperation with the Eurasian nation, the other being China.

On Monday, the visiting leader would meet external affairs minister SM Krishna; have delegation level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; meet vice-President Hamid Ansari, Opposition leader LK Advani and call on his Indian counterpart Pratibha Devisingh Patil. On Tuesday, he will visit Agra, Gaya and Mumbai.

Elbegdorj, accompanied by a high-level official delegation, including ministers of foreign affairs and trade, education and science and culture, and senior members of Mongolian Parliament, will hold delegation- level talks with the Prime Minister on a broad agenda, including bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest. On Wednesday, at the Second India-Mongolia Business forum, organised by FIFTA, the visiting leader is expected to meet and interact with captains of Indian industry in Mumbai and is likely to pitch Mongolia as an attractive investment destination.

According to officials, the main objectives of this event are to expand trade and investment relations of two countries, to introduce Mongolian favorable foreign investment legal environment and various opportunities to the Indian business community and to establish new business communications between our two counties.

Indo-Mongolian cooperation is limited to diplomatic visits and collaborations in the IT sector. India provides technical and economic assistance to Mongolia in the fields of higher education, agriculture, information and communication technology and human resource development.

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First published on: 14-09-2009 at 05:11 IST