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India to go ahead with IAEA negotiations, indicates Cong
August 21, 2007 18:59 IST
The central government will go ahead with its negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency in September in connection with the Indo-US nuclear deal, in spite of the Left's vehement opposition, the Congress indicated on Tuesday.
"Our position is unchanged. It is the same as it has been for the last few days or few months. You can draw your own conclusions from that," said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi.
He was responding to a query on whether the government will go ahead with its negotiations with the IAEA in September in spite of the stiff opposition by the Left.
"Just like we do not negotiate out of fear, we should not and do not fear to negotiate," said Singhvi.
However, he said that the government was ready to make all possible efforts to address the valid and legitimate concerns about the deal. Singhvi pointed out that "all options of every conceivable kind" were still open.
When queried as to how the government planned to address the concerns voiced about the nuclear deal, he merely said, "by holding discussions and by hearing every view."
"There can be an exchange of views and intense interactions. A genuine attempt will be made to understand the other's point of view. But I do not want to add to the confusion by giving any speculative responses," Singhvi said.
"There are bound to be differences in a democracy. There has been a collective decision in the United Progressive Alliance and it has involved not just the Congress but several entities," he added.
The entire negotiation process has been in the public domain, said Singhvi, and it has been marked by exemplary transparency and participatory proceedings over the last two years.
He added that the sections in Hyde Act, to which objections have been raised, are "non-binding" in nature.
Singhvi said that the agreement applied only to the safeguarded facilities and India's strategic nuclear programme remained unaffected by it.
Singhvi also sought to assuage concerns that India would lose the right to conduct nuclear tests. He said that India reserved the right to undertake a nuclear test just as the US had the right to act according to its non-proliferation goals.
Hitting back at the Bharatiya Janata Party, Singhvi said that after the Pokhran tests in 1998, the then prime minister and foreign minister had declared their readiness for a permanent moratorium on nuclear testing.
"The National Democratic Alliance and the BJP need to introspect on this," he said.