India to finally join nuclear security ‘gift baskets’

India has finally decided to join “gift baskets” at the Fourth Nuclear Security Summit here on Friday even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held meetings with several leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, on the sidelines of the summit.

Addressing a media briefing here as the summit got underway, Amandeep Singh Gill, joint secretary (disarmament and international security affairs), said that India has decided to join some gift baskets, including those on counter nuclear smuggling and sharing best practices.

Gift basket diplomacy involves an approach to a crucial issue where, if consensus is not reached till the lowest common denominator, then those willing can join in. In other words, it is a system of getting around the system of universal consensus at any multilateral summit.

The US had first introduced the gift basket diplomacy during negotiations in 2011 for the Second Nuclear Security Summit.

Fourteen such gift baskets were put up in the summit held in Seoul next year.

India, which had so far refrained from joining any of these gift baskets, has finally decided to go for it.

Gill said India would join the Trilateral Initiative which is the joint statement of the previous three co-chairs of the nuclear security summit which has been circulated in the form of a document in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“So, this group of countries which India is joining are committed to holding the bar high on nuclear security,” the joint secretary said.

“We will also be joining three other gift baskets in priority areas like counter nuclear smuggling, the sharing of best practices through centres of excellence such as GCNEP (Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership), and finally NSS follow-up through contact group in Vienna,” he said.

In Friday’s summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would underline that India would continue to reflect its nuclear obligations to the international community through its national actions, Gill said.

In the national progress report on the work India has done in terms of nuclear security in the two years since the last summit, Modi would underline the continued priority the country attached to nuclear security at home.

“Second, the prime minister will underline the continued priority we attach to the technology direction of nuclear security,” he said.

As leaders of over 50 nations met for the biennial summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also held bilateral meetings with British Prime Minister Cameron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“My meeting with PM @David_Cameron focused on defence cooperation, @makeinindia & other key issues,” Modi tweeted.

The meeting assumes significance as Tata Steel, after having suffered nearly $3 billion in losses on its British operations, is exploring to put its entire portfolio there up for sale, some 10 years after it forayed into Europe by acquiring Anglo-Dutch Corus for over $8.1 billion.

With around 40,000 jobs at stake, Cameron was expected to take up the matter with Modi during the meeting, according to media reports.

Earlier in the day, Modi met with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and invited Canadian faculty members to teach at institutes of higher learning in India for short stretches.

“He (Modi) said that Canadian professors and teachers, including retired faculty members, could consider coming to India during the harsh winter months in Canada and teaching at Indian universities for periods ranging from three to six months under the GIAN (Global Initiative of Academic Networks),” external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said at a media briefing here following the meeting.

GIAN is a programme under the union human resources ministry that aims at tapping the talent pool of academia and scientists internationally to encourage their engagement with institutes of higher education in India.

Trudeau, according to Swarup, said that there was “real potential for harnessing the opportunity of helping so many young people in India get better skills and Canada would also be happy to provide help in education and infrastructure support”.

Modi also invited Canadian companies to participate in India’s flagship development programmes such as the smart cities project and in India’s new policy for hydrocarbon sector, in particular for deep sea and high temperature exploration, that came into effect on Friday.

On the sidelines of the summit, Modi also had informal meetings with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

This year’s summit is the fourth and final edition of the biennial affair.

The first summit was held in Washington in 2010 which was followed by the summits in Seoul in 2012 and The Hague in 2014.

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