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India-US N-talks: Left seeks preview
January 20, 2006 02:51 IST
Even as India and the US held talks today to take forward the implementation of the July 18 nuclear deal that will lead to a new era in civilian nuclear cooperation between the two countries, the CPI(M) demanded that the separation of civil and military nuclear installations be made public.
Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns held a restricted meeting followed by a delegation-level meeting, officials said here. Apart from discussions on the road map for implementation of the nuclear cooperation agreement, the meeting could also consider the Iran nuclear issue.
However, the Politburo of the CPI(M) said that the Indian proposal had been circulated to representatives in the US Senate, the House of Representatives and think tanks.
"In contrast, the proposals have not been made public in India. There is no information whether the US is taking the steps it had to take as part of the reciprocal terms in the agreement," said the statement.
"It is surprising that on such a vital issue, the government has sought to keep political parties, Parliament and the nuclear scientific community in the dark," said the CPI (M).
Ahead of the two-day meeting, Burns said the two countries had "ventured into a unique international diplomacy in our bilateral atomic relations".
He said in Mumbai yesterday that India and the US were "committed to try and achieve civil nuclear agreement between the two countries". However, it is an open secret that both Democrats and Republicans in the US have opposed the deal citing proliferation-related concerns about licensing and logistical arrangements.
New Delhi expects a response from Washington to its plan at the meeting. The Prime Minister has maintained that the deal was based on "strict reciprocity", according to which India will present its plan for separation.
According to Burns it could take around 6-8 months to decide on how best to proceed "and put that into a bilateral programme that President George Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could agree upon finally as "the way ahead".
At the last meeting between Saran and Burns in Washington in December, the Indian side had unveiled its plan of separating civilian and military nuclear establishments as required under the deal. The plan would be put up before the US Congress for endorsement.
New Delhi expects a response from Washington to its plan at the meeting. The Prime Minister has maintained that the deal was based on "strict reciprocity", according to which India will present its plan for separation and simultaneously the Bush administration will approach the Congress for endorsement.
The US has been insisting that it would approach the Congress when it felt India's plan was "credible". Burns said yesterday that apart from the nuclear issue, the US was also keen to discuss agricultural research, energy needs, infrastructure development, space and higher education.
"We want to explore whether both the governments could do more in agricultural research with combined involvement of our universities and Indian technical institutes," he said.