Sri Lanka ignores Indian nuclear pact, looks to Pakistan

BY S VENKAT NARAYAN Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, July 14: Even as India is awaiting Sri Lanka’s response to its offer of a comprehensive nuclear pact, the dispensation in Colombo is reportedly moving in the direction of such a pact with Pakistan, seen globally as a country "with dubious non-proliferation records."

The Hindustan Times claimed in a report today that, "in an apparent tit for tat," Sri Lanka is moving in the direction of a nuclear pact with Pakistan after India voted against it at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva early this year.

At the same time, Colombo is dragging its feet on a similar pact with India by not scheduling talks despite New Delhi’s keenness to conclude the agreement soon, the daily claimed.

India had offered Sri Lanka a comprehensive nuclear pact that will deal with all aspects of civil nuclear cooperation, including safety and training of professionals. One round of talks was held in October last year, and India also sent a draft pact to Colombo.

New Delhi has been waiting for a Lankan response on dates for further talks. Official sources here said: "We are yet to hear from them," despite offering a "comprehensive pact".

Meanwhile, sources said foreign secretary-level talks between Sri Lanka and Pakistan have identified civil nuclear technology as a major area of cooperation.

Statements made by Lankan authorities show their intent to negotiate nuclear deals with both India and Pakistan, sources said.

Sri Lanka’s overtures to Pakistan are of concern to India, which sees its western neighbour as a country "with dubious non-proliferation records". It also has issues with Colombo overlooking its intention to give it the best possible deal. The second vote against Sri Lanka on the Tamil issue at the UN human rights council in March this year upset the country.

Of the 25 countries that voted against Sri Lanka, only India and South Korea were from Asia. Thirteen members, including Pakistan and China, voted against the resolution and eight abstained. India had voted against Sri Lanka in 2012 as well.

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