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N-deal will still go through: Burns

October 23, 2007

A top Bush administration official on Tuesday said he is not pessimistic about the developments over the Indo-US bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation agreement despite the deal being put on hold.

"It is a dramatic situation over there in India, but no one said the deal is dead," said Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns while addressing the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday morning in New York.

Burns, who was Washington's key negotiator for the Indo-US nuclear deal, hoped that India would go forward towards making the deal successful.

"We hope that the Indian government will be able to take the deal to its formal conclusion," he said.

Burns, however, said the United States does not want to be involved in India's internal political affairs.

"India has a very large coalition government and the Left parties have in the past three or four weeks have objected to the nuclear deal saying that it should not go forward. The Indian government now needs to make a decision. We do not want to intrude on the internal politics of India," Burns said.

"But we do believe the Indians need to make a decision at some point we hope the decision will be positive to go ahead with it," he said.

The main reason for the nuclear deal not coming through was not the specific terms of the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, but India's internal politics.

The Left parties -- without whose support the coalition Indian government will collapse -- expressed reservations over the deal and to India moving closer to the US. Beleaguered by the strong resistance to the nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] decided to save the coalition government than the Indo-US nuclear pact.

Burns said the Indo-US nuclear deal has become the centerpiece of a new relationship between Indian and the United States, and is part of a broader shift in the relations between the two nations.

He said that the United States' evolving relationship with India goes beyond the nuclear deal and that the Indo-US cooperation could be much broader. He said the US has been partnering with India in the agricultural sector to bring about the second Green Revolution as also in the field of education.

"The possibilities for cooperation with India are immense in various fields. There are tremendous opportunities to work together," he added.

He said that in a multi-polar world, the US needs friends to resolve global challenges.

"We cannot resolve single challenge acting alone in the world without good friends and allies; and looking for partners around the globe there are few countries or institutions that are truly global and can work with a country like the US on a global stage´┐Ż India meets that definition," he said.

He said India is rising from a foreign policy of nonalignment of last 60 years and has global view that is remarkably similar to ours.

"With the rise of India, we have an opportunity to make a strategic partnership with India that we never had before," Burns said.

Image: Nicholas Burns addressing the Council on Foreign Relations.
Reportage: Suman Guha Mozumder | Photograph: Paresh Gandhi

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