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Top US, Indian officials hold meet over N-deal
March 02, 2006 00:02 IST
In efforts to wrap up the civilian nuclear pact, top Indian and American officials met late on Wednesday night, to iron out any remaining differences, a day ahead of a summit meeting between President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.
Shortly after Bush's arrival, on a three-day visit, his National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns held talks with their counterparts M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran. Prior to the meeting, Narayanan and Saran met for about an hour.
Officials of the two countries met at about 2145 hours and the meeting continued late into the night, sources said. They were discussing the the follow-up agreement on the July 18 deal on civilian nuclear cooperation reached during the visit of the Prime Minister to Washington. All officials, who are keen to wrap this up, were in touch even prior to the American entourage's arrival.
Earlier, when President Bush arrived at Delhi's Palam Airport, he was seen having an animated discussion with Dr Singh, who broke protocol to receive him personally. They will hold wide-ranging talks on Thursday.
Before his arrival, Bush told reporters, during a brief halt in Kabul, that the two countries were continuing dialogue and 'hopefully we can reach an agreement. If not, we will continue to work on that until we do'.
He added, "It is a difficult issue for the Indian and American governments." The two sides have been working hard to overcome differences over the issue of separation of India's civilian and military nuclear facilities.
Spelling out New Delhi's position in Parliament, Dr Singh made it clear on Monday that the indigenous Fast Breeder Reactor programme cannot be placed under international safeguards and there will be no compromise on the country's strategic programme.
Bush 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 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.
Complete coverage: President Bush in India