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Talks on to iron out differences with India on nuke pact: Bush
March 01, 2006 18:29 IST
Keen to wrap up an agreement on implementation of the landmark nuclear deal, US negotiators are trying to iron out differences with their Indian interlocutors over telephone from President George W Bush's plane shortly before his arrival in New Delhi.
"Our people are talking to Indians on the plane about trying to come to a civilian power agreement," Bush said at a press conference in Kabul where he arrived for a brief halt before flying to New Delhi. "It is a difficult issue for the Indian Government. It is a difficult issue for the American Government. So, we continue to dialogue and work and hopefully we can reach an agreement. If not, we will continue to work on that until we do," he said.
Bush, who holds talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders in New Delhi on Thursday, said, "It is in the interest of the US and in the interest of the countries around the world that India develops a nuclear power industry". The US President advocated an international consortium that will enable countries to develop their nuclear power industries in safe ways, prevent proliferation as also excessive consumption of fossil fuels.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is accompanying Bush, told reporters on Air Force One that sticking points remained in the way of the nuclear agreement. "The one thing that is absolutely necessary is that any agreement would assure that once India has decided to put a reactor under safeguard that it remain permanently under safeguard," she said.
The provision Rice cited would prevent India from transferring a reactor from civilian to military status, thus exempting it from international inspections, according to AP.
Rice said she was uncertain whether there would be an agreement during Bush's trip but said that wouldn't determine the success or failure of his visit. "We're still working on it," she was quoted as saying. "Obviously it would be an important breakthrough" for the United States and India.
"We very much would like to have a deal," she said. "We are continuing to work on it." She expressed confidence that if no deal results from this trip, the US and India would get one later.Bush, accompanied by First Lady Laura Bush, commences a three-day visit to India on Wednesday evening. He will fly to Pakistan on March 4.